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Ilya 
Bolotowsky 



Ilya Bolotowsky 



THE SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, NEW YORK 



Published by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1974 
Library of Congress Card Catalogue Number 74-14171 
®The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1974 
Printed in The United States 



The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation 



PRESIDENT 
TRUSTEES 



Peter O. Lawson-Johnston 

H. H. Arnason, Eleanor, Countess Castle Stewart, 
Joseph W. Donner, Mason Welch Gross, Frank R. Milliken, 
Henry Allen Moe, A. Chauncey Newlin, Mrs. Henry Obre, 
Daniel Catton Rich, Albert E. Thiele, Michael F. Wettach. 



The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 



DIRECTOR 
STAFF 



Thomas M. Messer 

Henry Berg, Deputy Director; Linda Konheim, Program Administrator; 
Agnes R. Connolly, Auditor; Susan L. Halper, Administrative Assistant; 
Aaron Karp, Operations Supervisor; Eric Siegeltuch, Assistant for Management; 
Vanessa Jalet, Secretary to the Director. 

Louise Averill Svendsen, Curator; Diane Waldman, Curator of Exhibitions; 

Margit Rowell, Curator of Special Exhibitions; 

Angelica Zander Rudenstine, Research Curator; 

Linda Shearer, Assistant Curator; Carol Fuerstein, Editor; Mary Joan Hall, Librarian; 

Ward Jackson, Archivist; Cheryl McClenney, Sabine Rewald, Coordinators. 

Orrin Riley, Conservator; Lucy Belloli, Assistant Conservator; 

Saul Fuerstein, Preparator; Robert E. Mates, Photographer; 

David Roger Anthony, Registrar; Elizaberh M. Funghini, 

Cherie A. Summers, Assistant Registrars; Dana Cranmer, Technical Manager. 

Anne B. Grausam, Public Affairs Officer; Miriam Emden, Members' 
Representative; Darrie Hammer, Information; Carolyn Porcelli, Coordinator. 

Peter G. Loggin, Building Superintendent; Guy Fletcher, Jr., 
Assistant Building Superintendent; Charles F. Banach, Head Guard. 



Lenders tO the Exhibition American Republic Insurance Company, Des Moines, Iowa 

Richard Brown Baker 
Mr. E. M. Black, New York 
Ilya Bolotowsky 
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Brandt 
Collection of The Chase Manhattan Bank 
Collection of Ciba-Geigy Corporation, Ardsley, New York 
Mr. and Mrs. Saul Z. Cohen 
Fidelity International Bank 
Richard Gray, Chicago 
The Joseph H. Hirshhorn Collection 
Jeffrey Kasch, Milwaukee 
Loretta and Robert K. Lifton 
Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Lombard, New York 
Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Lowenstein, Franklin, Michigan 
Dr. and Mrs. Sidney Merians 
Mr. and Mrs. George L. K. Morris 
Silvia Pizitz 

The John F. Kennedy International Airport Collection, The Port Authority of 
New York and New Jersey 

Mr. and Mrs. Paul C. Schorr, III, Lincoln, Nebraska 
J. Daniel Selig 

Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Singer, Jr. 
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen L. Singer 
Bernard S. Solomon, New York 
Sue and David Workman 



Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York 

The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut 

The Cleveland Museum of Art 

Robert Hull Fleming Museum, The University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont 

Grey Art Gallery and Art Study Center, New York University 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 

The Museum Section: Guild Hall of East Hampton, New York 

The Museum of Modern Art, New York 

National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 

Philadelphia Museum of Art 

The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. 

University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City 

University of Nebraska Art Galleries, Lincoln 

University Art Museum, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque 

The University of Texas at Austin 

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis 

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York 



Acknowledgements Ilya Bolotowsky had his first New York one-man show in 1930 and has 

exhibited here regularly since the early 1950's. Not before this current assess- 
ment of Bolotowsky's oeuvre has he been presented alone in a New York 
museum show. His steadfast adherence to stylistic ideals that were often out 
of fashion and overshadowed by other trends is at least in part responsible 
for such delayed acceptance. 

Bolotowsky was already painting abstract murals in the 1930's when social 
realism dominated the scene. In the 1940's, as a member of the American 
Abstract Artists, he had already embraced Mondrian's Neo-Plastic ideals and 
never swerved in his commitment to this rational alternative to movements 
based upon a release of subconscious imagery. 

Subsequently a widespread preoccupation with Abstract Expressionism 
of the 1950's and the rather single-minded pursuit of the idioms that grew 
out of it, left Bolotowsky in an isolated position which he used sagely to 
enrich and deepen his increasingly personal expression. 



A decision to prepare this exhibition was made years ago upon suggestion 
of Mrs. Adelyn Breeskin, Consultant, 20th Century Painting and Sculpture, 
at the National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. It is, therefore, 
fitting that the National Collection and the Guggenheim Museum should 
share the exhibition, and that Mrs. Adelyn Breeskin should have contributed 
the following catalogue essay. Mrs. Breeskin and Dr. Louise Averill Svendsen, 
Curator of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, therefore, share credits 
for the undertaking as a whole, since the latter, with the help of Mimi Poser, 
interviewed the artist, eliciting, for the purpose of this publication, important 
and original information. Dr. Svendsen is also responsible for the selection, 



and with the aid of Carol Fuerstein, Cheryl McClenney and Nancy Troy, for 
the preparation of the catalogue. Despite such efforts, the Bolotowsky ex- 
hibition would not have been presented in this form without the devoted help 
of Grace Borgenicht, the artist's friend and dealer throughout the past two 
decades, the generous tolerance of lenders whose names are specially 
acknowledged, and above all, Ilya Bolotowsky's own passionate involvement 
which through his urgent presence enlivened and rendered meaningful our 
institutional efforts. 

The Guggeheim Museum takes pride in presenting, through a carefully 
weighed selection, Ilya Bolotowsky's significant contribution to American art. 



Thomas M. Messer 

Director, 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 







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llya BolotOWSky As artists grow older their styles become ever more their own, drawing less 

upon changes that go on around them. This indeed has been true of the work 
of llya Bolotowsky. He came to the United States from Russia at the age 
of sixteen in 1923, and some ten years later first saw paintings by Mondrian 
in the Gallatin Collection in New York. Greatly impressed by them, he began 
to explore the clean, pure, formal approach perfected by Piet Mondrian in 
pursuit of his Neo-Plasticism. He has never ceased to be fascinated by this 
elusive perfection and has retained throughout his career much of the basic 
imagery of that master. Order and clarity have been essential to both artists, 
as well as a severe discipline of restraint and subtlety in the ordering of their 
insistently vertical-horizontal compositions. It has been said that the rampant 
disorder of modern life in our cities was a constant challenge to Mondrian, 
encouraging him to confine himself to a strictly formal art devoid of figurative 
images. This rampant disorder— which is no less evident today— may also 
have drawn Bolotowsky to Mondrian's Neo-Plasticism — a kind of painting 
in which a great range of tensions exist, but find resolution in a world of 
pure abstraction. 

Loyalty to an already stated goal or idea does not mean imitation or sub- 
servience. A true artist, through his concentration and personal depth of 
feeling, must re-examine the goal in his own terms to reach artistic maturity 
and independence. Bolotowsky's career is a lesson in the realization and 
refinement of a highly personal taste. 

Sir Herbert Read defined pure color as color used for itself, not for imitation. 
Pure color in this sense, in ever richer varieties and shapes, has added new 
strength to Bolotowsky's highly distinctive canvases in recent years. Robert 
M. Ellis remarked in his essay for the Bolotowsky exhibition held at the Uni- 
versity of New Mexico in 1970, that the artist's more recent paintings with 
their jewel-like quality of color bring to mind the icons of Bolotowsky's native 
Russia. One might indeed speculate on the differences between the impact 
of Bolotowsky's Russian heritage and the Dutch background of Mondrian. 
The richly ornamental robes of the flat, elongated figures of saints in Russian 
icons make a thought-provoking comparison with Bolotowsky's composi- 
tions. The icons do have a singular, majestic beauty and underlying vitality 
that Bolotowsky seems to have inherited. And in addition to their wealth of 
color, there is also a boldness of conception that might be likened, in its 
way, to Bolotowsky's willingness to experiment with the shape of the canvas. 



In 1947 he began to use the diamond-shaped format. In explaining his 
liking for this form, he has said that the feeling of space is much greater in a 
diamond-shaped area than in a square of the same lateral measurement 
because the vertical and horizontal dimensions are larger in relationship to 
the whole. He has also recently employed the tondo shape with great success, 
as well as the ellipse, the rectangle and other related forms, using colors 
rich in quality and an interplay of horizontal and vertical tensions always 
brilliantly alive. 

Since Neo-Plasticism is basically an architectural or architectonic form of 
painting, Bolotowsky's move in 1961 into the creation of three-dimensional 
structures or columns was a natural development and has greatly enhanced 
his work. Each side of a structure presents a self-contained unit, yet when any 
two adjacent sides are seen together a new composition embracing them 
both is formed. Viewed successively in this way the columns present a whole 
series of compositions within a unified whole. 

In the later i94o's, Kandinsky's "inner necessity" rather than Mondrian's 
"balanced relations" seems to have become the dominant influence through- 
out our country. Abstract Expressionism flourished with its action painting, 
impulsive gesture and formal permissiveness. It continued to attract a 
majority of our artists into the 1960's. As a confirmed follower of Mondrian, 
Bolotowsky was never swayed by such spontaneous expression. He adhered 
unremittently to an art of equilibrium established through the proportion 
of decisive plastic means — the planes, the lines, the colors. The Neo-Plastic 
idea persisted in his work, continuing to develop and to show vigor. Although 
related to geometric art, it is not properly geometric as in the work of Gabo 
or Pevsner. While geometric art explores the potentiality offered by many 
geometric figures, Neo-Plasticism limits itself to the use of the right angle. 
This, Bolotowsky says, offers the possibility of much subtler relationships. 
"Nowadays," he has said, "when paintings torture the retina, when music 
gradually destroys the eardrum, there must, all the more, be a need for an art 
that searches for new ways to achieve harmony and equilibrium, for an art 
where, as Mondrian said: 'inwardness is brought to its clearest definition, or 
externality is interiorized to the highest degree'; for an art that strives for 
the timelessness of the Platonic ideas. To this art I hope to continue making 
my contribution." ("On Neo-plasticism and My Own Work: A Memoir," 



Leonardo 2:2.30, 1969.) He has indeed established a powerful individual 
image towards this end, and has had a marked impact on the formal art of 
recent years. Balancing color and line in forms that are deceptively simple, 
beautifully colorful, and handsomely functional, he has created an art that 
perpetuates the refinement and transcendent vitality of the highest formal ideal 



Adelyn D. Breeskin 

Consultant, 

20th Century Painting and Sculpture 

National Collection of Fine Arts 



Interview with 
Ilya Bolotowsky 

by Louise Averill Svendsen 
with Mimi Poser 



LAS There are some things, I think, Ilya, 
we'd like to know about your life. 
You were born in Petrograd in 1907 
and your father, you've told me, was 
a lawyer. 

IB My father, at that time, was still 
studying law at the university in 
Petrograd which is now called Lenin- 
grad. My mother was already 
through her university, the only uni- 
versity for women in Russia. 



LAS You were brought up, then, in an 

unusually educated, cultivated house- 
hold. How were you educated your- 
self? Did you go to the public schools 
in Petrograd? 

IB No, no, I did not go to school as 

such. I had private tutors and I would 
just take tests. I had more than half 
the year off at the Gymnasia in Baku, 
when I did my reading, which proved 
to be pretty useful. 



LAS Did you study English then? 

IB No, there was no English. I studied 
some English when I went to the 
French college in Constantinople. 



LAS Tell me, during this period, were you 
taking art lessons or were you 
drawing? 

IB My mother, who did art all her life 
on her own, finally did take some 
lessons during the First World War 
when a great many artists fled from 



Moscow and Petrograd to Baku. 
Suddenly Baku blossomed out into 
a rather big cultural center. There 
was an art school called The Art 
Studio which wasn't bad at all. 
There were some realists teaching 
there— and one fellow, very academi- 
cal, and another one, Gerasimov, 
who was an Expressionist in a style 
similar to Jawlensky, a very good 
one. But my mother had her own 
sort of club for children of her pro- 
fessional friends and she let us draw, 
and that was the beginning. 



LAS Do you remember meeting some of 
these artists? 

IB I met some of them and on a few 
occasions I would work in The Art 
Studio, and they were quite amused 
that I could draw ... it came to me 
naturally. 



LAS You can't remember any time that 
you weren't drawing? 

IB No, I drew on and off for quite a 
while. By the age of five I could draw 
from nature— portraits of people, 
animals and landscapes that were 
not bad. 



LAS When did you conceive the idea that 
you might like to become a profes- 
sional artist? 

IB I did not really consider this. Because 
of the Russian or Tolstoian influence, 



it was felt that you had to do some- 
thing socially useful. So it was under- 
stood that I would be a lawyer. 



LAS When your father settled in 

Constantinople, did he intend to stay 
there? Or was it just a place from 
which to come to America? 

IB Oh, he intended to come to America, 
yes. He intended to come to Amer- 
ica, but for a while, he was partners 
with some fellow. They had a trading 
corporation and then when they 
made enough money, we went to 
America. 



MP How long did you stay in 
Constantinople? 

IB We stayed there only about two and 
a half years. 



LAS You went to school there? 

IB I went to the College St. Joseph for 
two years, yes. 



LAS Did you study art? 

IB They had an art class which I 

thought was preposterous because 
the teacher could not draw. He made 
us do geometric shapes free hand and 
model them in what Malevich called 
passages from light to dark, very, very 
precise. And the kids could not even 
handle the pencils. So I could do 
freehand circles and other shapes. 
And it's funny that years later I be- 
came a geometric painter. Maybe this 
affected me more than I realize. 



MP Did you know about Malevich then? 
Were you aware of what was going 
on in the art world? 

IB Malevich, no. I discovered Malevich 
when I got to New York. No. Russian 
modern art I knew mostly as Chagall 
or Gerasimov, who painted somewhat 
like the German Expressionists. 



MP But you were aware of what was 
going on in the art world as a child. 
You were interested in it? 

IB Yes, but for me, art at that time, as a 
child, was representational art of a 
more liberal kind. Not polished, but 
like the German painter Max 
Lieberman, the Russians Repin, 
Serov, Levitan, and, the pre-Surrealist, 
Vrubel, and, of course, Chagall. 



MP Did your mother take you to mu- 
seums, or did you want to go 
yourself? 

IB Baku really had no museum to speak 
of except for The Art Studio that was 
established during the war, and held 
occasional exhibitions. 



LAS How about in Constantinople? Did 
you go around and visit all of the 
churches? 

IB In Constantinople, the churches, yes, 
Hagia Sophia and the mosques, and 
the museum. 



LAS Were you happy at the idea of com- 
ing to America? 

IB Yes, but again it was rather a shock 
because, culturally, America was very 
different from Europe. Not anymore, 
maybe. In New York it was rather 



rough and aggressive and to me this, 
at first, seemed rather hectic. And 
then, once I got adjusted, I was okay. 



MP What year was it that you came here? 
IB It was September 1913. 



LAS Were you happy at the National 
Academy? 

IB No. It was a very stodgy school, but 
we had models there, although the 
school was poor and the classes 
were crowded. 



LAS How did you decide what to do 
when you got here? Did you go to 
school or were you beyond the stage 
of high school? 

IB I went to the National Academy of 
Design. 



LAS Why did you decide to do that? 

IB It was the only art school that didn't 
charge tuition, or rather, it charged a 
nominal one. 



LAS But you had decided then to become 
an artist? 

IB Well, I sort of decided. Since I was 
always doing it, it just grew rather 
naturally I suppose. It wasn't even a 
matter of choice, it just grew. 



MP And your parents had no objection? 

IB No, not really, although I suspect my 
father, in a sense, even though he 
wouldn't force me, would rather 
have had me become a lawyer. On 
the other hand, he never would insist 
on it, but he felt I shouldn't make a 
final decision until I knew that I 
had enough talent to rise above 
mediocrity. 



14 



LAS Did you study with anyone in 
particular? 

IB There wasn't any real instruction as I 
would consider it. In this case, I 
sound like Raphael, who wrote 
that "because I could not get any 
intelligent instruction, I had to follow 
the classic Greek masters." 



LAS You must have been very good, 
though, because you got first prize 
for drawing and painting when you 
were there. 

IB They were rather flexible with me. 
You had to take one year of drawing 
from the antique plaster casts. But 
after, I think, a month of this, they 
advanced me from one antique to the 
next, and then, after a couple of 
months, I was through and I went 
into the life class. So I guess they were 
pretty nice with me, the Academicians. 



LAS You didn't learn any particular sys- 
tem at the Academy? 

IB At the Academy, it was direct paint- 
ing but actually not a system. 



LAS What kind of painting did you do, 
what would you call it now? Would 
it have been Impressionism at that 
time? 

IB Well, no. It was a kind of Academic 
Impressionism. In other words, I was 



trying to work in color areas to the 
best of my ability but because color 
was known to be something rather 
evil, I was subdued in my colors. And 
even so, I was known to be too dar- 
ing. Color was known to be not a 
very solid way of working in a cul- 
ture where a gentleman would use 
very subdued silvery and brown 
tones. 



LAS What sort of subject matter were you 
encouraged to do? 

IB It was mostly models, just models. 



LAS Did you do landscapes, too? 

IB We had no chance of doing landscapes 
there. I painted some landscapes 
sometimes in the summer, when I 
had a Tiffany Foundation 
Scholarship. 



LAS Did you get a degree out of the 

Academy? Or did you leave before 
such a thing happened? 

IB The Academy awarded no diplomas 
and no degrees. I never had much use 
for degrees, and never did anything 
about getting one. 



LAS But at some point, you finished it and 
started off on your own? 

IB Yes. 



small scholarship, I went to Europe 
for ten months in 1932. When I got 
back, I did textile designing again, 
then a P.W.A.P. Project, then the 
W.P.A. Project. 



LAS How would you describe your work 
before you went to Europe? What 
sort of things were you painting, 
Expressionist? Naturalist? 

IB Before I went to Europe, I considered 
my work Impressionistic although 
my color was still inhibited by the 
National Academy. Despite the fact 
that up there I was a rebel, I didn't 
dare to clash certain colors as 
Impressionists would. I avoided color 
vibrations because they were in "bad 
taste" and yet this is the whole effect of 
the Impressionists— they would create 
luminosity through small brush- 
strokes of vibrating colors. Anyhow, 
my work was not sufficiently 
Impressionistic in color but it was an 
attempt at least. In Europe I became 
rather more of an Expressionist. As a 
matter of fact, it was not so much 
the influence of the Germans, but 
more the influence of Soutine by way 
of a certain black artist who was at 
that time living in Denmark. His 
name was William Henry Johnson 
and he had been a remarkably gifted 
student in the National Academy in 
New York, and a fantastic colorist. 



MP What did you do after the National 
Academy? 

IB Oh, let's see. I got a job doing textile 
design. For a while I taught in settle- 
ment houses and then finally, after 
saving some money and getting a 



15 



MP This was in the early thirties, wasn't 
it? 

IB Yes. It was in 1932. 



MP When you were in Paris did you 
meet any of the people who were 
working in the geometric style, the 
Cercle et Carre group? 

IB No. 



LAS What artists impressed you when you 
were in Paris and wandering around 
Europe? 

IB I was interested in Cubism, Picasso 
impressed me, and Braque. And I was 
also interested somewhat in De 
Chirico, although it's a funny thing. 
I felt that De Chirico was a bit corny. 
Later on I liked him more. Now I'm 
going back to the original opinion. 
Cezanne I liked very much, and van 
Gogh very much too. And also 
Matisse. As to the geometric painters, 
at that time, in the early thirties, I 
don't think they were exhibited 
much. However, there was one show 
of modern Russian art around 1930 
in New York, and that included the 
Suprematists, the Cubists and the 
Constructivists. Also in 1933, 1 saw 
my first Mondrians in the Gallatin 
Collection in New York, but in Paris, 
if you didn't know where to go, . . . 
you didn't see them. 



MP One other thing about those Paris 
times. You mentioned De Chirico, 
and at that time there was a lot of 
Surrealist work being done there. 

IB Yes. 



MP Did you meet many of the surrealists? 

IB No, no. You see, I was in Paris only 
a few weeks. I was on a strict budget. 
I went to the Louvre and I went to 
see the Picassos, the Cubists. I spent 
a lot of time in Italy, some in 
Germany, Denmark, and England. 



LAS So when you came back from a year 
of traveling around, the economic 
situation in America was steadily 
deteriorating. Can you tell us a little 
bit about the times then, economic 
problems you artists had and how 
you happened first to get on to the 
Project? And was it the mural project, 
first and only, that you were on, or 
were you involved with other projects 
during this period? 

IB Oh no. The thing was complicated 
... as younger Americans we had 
no hope economically at all, there 
were few galleries in New York, there 
were few jobs. The critics were mostly 
against us. So that my job with the 
textile designing thing was fairly 
good by the standards of the time. 
But it took a certain amount of 
dedication, or maybe fatalism to 
continue painting. The first thing I did 
get when I came back from Europe, 
after the textile company failed, 
was a P.W.A.P., Public Works 
Administration Art Project job, not 
W.P.A. I did a number of easel 
paintings. The salary for P.W.A.P. for 
the period was fantastic, $38.25 a 
week. I was required to paint realistic 
easel paintings of New York scenes. 
I did one from a window in the 
Woolworth Building, another one 
was of a barber shop, a third of some 
steel workshop. 



16 



LAS Did they give you a special time limit 
before you had to turn in a painting? 

IB 1 think a painting would be allowed 
about five weeks to complete. Then 1 
applied for a W.P.A. teaching job at 
a modest $22.40, 1 think. And that 
was really hard work. 



LAS How did you get into the W.P.A. 
mural project? 

IB I was told by Mrs. Balcomb Greene, 
Gertrude Greene, that Diller was 
starting a W.P.A. mural project trying 
to use abstract artists of the day. I was 
already trying to do abstractions and 
I went to see Diller and I was asked 
to submit sketches. After a lot of 
trouble because the teachers' project 
would not let mc off, I was finally 
transferred to the mural project. The 
first mural design that I did was for 
the Williamsburg Housing Project. 
The architect for this project was 
William Lescaze, one of the few 
modern architects of the day, and 
sympathetic to abstract art. This was 
the beginning of something new. And 
I don't think people realize that at 
that time Diller was instrumental 
in something historical. . . . He 
played a most important role in 
the development of abstract art in 
this country as mural project 
administrator even giving up his own 
painting for quite a while. And yet 
he was painting Neo-Plastic paintings 
as early as 1934. He was totally 
dedicated to promoting abstract style 
in murals before abstract art was 
accepted in the U.S. He deserves 
absolute full credit for his work in all 
the future art history books. 



LAS Was it because of your involvement 
in the W.P.A. that during this period, 
I think it was 1936, that you and your 
friends were instrumental in founding 
the American Abstract Artists 
association? 

IB It was more or less like this, although 
not entirely. The reason was very 
indirect. Harry Holtzman, a student 
of Hans Hofmann, was Diller's as- 
sistant in the W.P.A. mural project. 
Holtzman had rented a big loft . . . 
which he painted a la Mondrian, all 
white. All just right, and he wanted 
to teach his idea of Neo-Plastic art, 
and he wanted artists to come and 
discuss things there, so that the young 
fellows who would study with him 
would also have a kind of intellectual 
atmosphere. And so he invited a 
whole bunch of us who also were on 
the mural project and some of the 
others to meet in his loft. But what 
happened was this: the bunch came 
to discuss not Holtzman's ideas but 
rather how to organize a group and to 
exhibit. Out of this developed the 
American Abstract Artists. Actually, 
the term abstract was not very well 
defined at this time. 



LAS You didn't hang labels on yourselves 
in this period. 

IB Well, it was just beginning to emerge, 
I mean the idea of definitions, but it 
was still very vague. The main dis- 
tinction was this: there were people 
who would paint and abstract from 
nature, and there were those who 
dared to simply abstract without any 
nature at all. And between the two 
groups there was a certain amount of 
tension. The Hofmann students really 
belonged, more or less, to those who 
abstract from nature to some extent. 



i8 



I never studied with Hofmann, 
neither did Balcomb Greene. We 
were people who did not abstract 
from nature at all. Although I did 
some Cubist paintings, I felt they 
were not entirely abstract. And so the 
American Abstract Artists tried to 
establish a definition of what is 
abstract. We could never get a 
definition to suit everybody and 
finally gave up the attempt because of 
the arguments that came out of it. 



LAS Did you continue to meet informally? 

IB Oh yes. Soon other people joined like 
George L. K. Morris, even Albert 
Eugene Gallatin and the American 
Abstract Artists was formally 
organized. Also there was an attempt 
on the part of another bunch, the 
socially-minded people, some of them 
might have been, and some, who were 
not but were just affected by the 
depression. They felt that art had to 
serve the people in a more direct way, 
and that art should derive from 
nature. Although how that would 
serve the people, I really don't know. 
And so, there were several movements 
within the same abstract group. 
The socially conscious group was 
depending mostly on Picasso. There 
was also a non-social Picasso 
renaissance. It was an amusing 
coincidence, because Picasso, in spite 
of his abstract quality, always had 
some feeling of nature in his work. 
There was some empathy, some feel- 
ing of inner vitality or some feeling of 
nature, some quality of the texture of 
nature that the pure abstractionists 
would not have. For that matter, 
Leger also never achieved pure ab- 
straction for long. He painted a few 
paintings which were geometric and 



some which were almost Mondrian- 
like. But eventually he quit in disgust, 
and said, "That's for saints and I am 
a man." He had no use for it. 



MP You used the word "empathy" to 
distinguish between empathy and 
abstraction. Could you explain that? 

IB You can find this in Wilhelm Wor- 
ringer. Empathy is the essence of any 
vitality, activity, anything to do with 
life. Brancusi's bird or fish are ex- 
treme examples of empathy. So are 
works by Titian and Rembrandt. 
That's empathy, when you feel that 
the painting is not just copying some- 
thing from nature but gives you the 
essence of either its vitality or 
mystery, or let's say as in a dancer 
leaping: the essence of movement. On 
the other hand, a very beautiful 
bridge, I would say that's pure ab- 
straction. It's not alive. It's just a 
perfection in structure beyond human 
bounds. And so that would be pure 
abstraction. There is a difference. If a 
bridge is made to look like a deer 
leaping over a precipice, something 
would be lost in its purity of design. 
If Rembrandt gave out a very strong, 
obvious abstract sense, a great deal 
of Rembrandt would be lost. 



MP Do you find that you and many of 
your colleagues were reading Wor- 
ringer in this country? 

IB No, no. We had no idea of Worringer. 
We had to probe on our own. 
Worringer wrote Abstraction and 
Empathy in 1906. Kandinsky painted 
his first abstraction around 1910, but 
Worringer's book appeared in the 



United States, in English, in the 1950s. 
And so when the group divided 
among people who were painting 
without referring to nature, which is 
abstraction, and those who felt there 
had to be an essence of nature, 
empathy, we did not know those 
terms yet. 



LAS Now you mentioned Kandinsky. 
During this period were you and 
other people here in New York ex- 
posed to Kandinsky's paintings at the 
Museum of Non-Objective Painting? 



IB Oh yes. 



LAS Did they make any impression on you 
as an abstract painter yourself by 
this time. 

IB They did, and I was influenced by 
Kandinsky in the first mural sketch 
I did which I never submitted. Kan- 
dinsky is actually pure empathy. In 
other words, he is the father of ab- 
straction and yet, like Moses, he 
never saw the promised land, you 
know. He never even suspected it. 
Kandinsky was a mystic and he is 
emotional and he transmits empathy. 
Even when he paints geometrically, 
his paintings are explosions, they're 
all emotional explosions. His work 
is mystical, never structured like 
Mondrian's. So that it's funny that 
they always mention that Kandinsky 
is the first pure abstractionist when it 
isn't quite the case somehow. 



LAS Not even historically now. 

IB Not really, no. You might say, if 
Kandinsky is pure abstraction, then 
why is not Brancusi? You get into a 
real mess. 



LAS Yes, but how did you feel about 
Kandinsky? 

IB I always had a kind of funny feeling 
about Kandinsky. Some of the stuff 
impressed me, and yet when I tried to 
learn from him, I would get in a kind 
of soup, you see. And I had the same 
feeling with Klee because Klee, of 
course, is Swiss, and the Swiss have 
a very particular gift for sort of 
legendary, delicate, fairy tales. 



MP It has been said that although 
Kandinsky worked in France and 
Germany for much of his career, he 
retained, particularly in his later 
work, certain characteristics of 
Russian art. This has also been said 
of Malevich. Do you feel that, in 
spite of the fact that you have lived 
and worked in the United States for 
most of your life, your own Russian 
background is discernable in your 
painting? 

IB Certainly as one gets older, one's 
origins are reasserted. The aging 
process affects the voice pattern, 
speech and artistic style as well. In 
the case of Kandinsky, his Russian 
background began to show more 
strongly late in his life: for example, 
his colors, which always reveal the 
influence of Byzantine icons, grew 
even more Russian. This is un- 
doubtedly true in my own case as 
well. 



19 



LAS So actually of all the precedents of 
the earlier generation, of so-called 
abstract artists it is the Constructi- 
vists, who affected you most? 

IB Malevich or Mondrian, that's about 
all. 



LAS It wasn't really until you encountered 
Mondrian that you began to feel that 
this is something which means 
something. 

IB That's right. Until then I tried to 
utilize Cubism in some fashion on 
my own. 



LAS Don't we see the influence of your 
encounter with Miro, which is very 
strong in the thirties, and then that 
of Mondrian? 

IB Well, I saw Miros and Mondrians at 
about the same time, in 1933, and so 
at first I was trying to combine the 
two. I felt the necessity of combining 
the biomorphic and the geometric. 



wanted to go on a long sabbatical 
leave from Black Mountain College 
. . . and I was eventually hired to be 
there in his absence. 



LAS What was it like when you arrived at 
Black Mountain College? You were 
the acting director for the next two 
years while he was gone. Who were 
the teachers down there when you 
were there? 

IB Among the teachers, there were some 
very good people. There was Max 
Dehn, the famous mathematician 
who was eclipsed by Einstein. There 
was Hansgirg, an Austrian industrial- 
ist, a chemist. He was quite a famous 
scientist who had fled from Austria 
when it was overrun by the Nazis. 



LAS Who was teaching art down there? 

IB Albers left and I was teaching art. 
There was also Mary Gregory, but 
she taught what they called wood- 
working. 



LAS When you got out of the army and 
you came back to New York and 
looked at the scene, then what 
happened? 

IB I was in a rather tired condition. 
Soon after my return in 1945, A. E. 
Gallatin invited me to show in a 
group, "Eight by Eight," eight paint- 
ings by eight abstract artists, to be 
shown in the Philadelphia Museum, 
to which he had just donated his 
collection. Then I got ready for a 
one-man show with J. B. Neumann's 
New Art Circle in 1946. During my 
show in the New Art Circle I was 
invited to meet Albers. Albers had 



LAS Did they have a sculptor? 

IB They had no sculptor. The weaving, 
which Annie Albers was teaching, 
was taken over by Franziska Haas. 
That was the Art Department, you 
see. 



LAS The main responsibility for teaching 
painting was yours? 

IB Yes. Painting and drawing. Design 
was not being taught because it was 
Albers' specialty. 



LAS Did you stay down there two full 
years? 

IB I stayed there two years and the 
summer in between. I conducted a 
summer program. 

LAS Was there an interesting social life? 

IB Well, it was interesting at first but it 
got to be a self-centered and closed 
community, since on the outside it 
was the old south, you know. It was 
different from the present day south. 
It feels almost a century away. 

LAS What sort of students did you have? 

IB I had quite a number of good stu- 
dents. Some of them ended up in 
other professions. Kenneth Noland 
is probably the best known. His 
present style has nothing to do with 
what I taught him. With me, he was 
actually in a Cubistic period and 
gradually going into abstraction. 
And there were quite a few gifted 
painters who ended up in different 
styles, such as Joseph Fiore, Knute 
Stiles, the Bergman brothers, and 
others. Altogether it was a very lively 
place, but very much inbred. And that 
finally became stifling, like living in 
a small room with mirrors; nothing 
else exists, except endless reflections. 
And I feel it wasn't necessarily a very 
healthy situation. What I'm saying is 
a terrific heresy because now the in- 
terest in Black Mountain College is 
growing more and more. I guess, 
again, I'll be considered a dissident, 
but that's the way it is, much as I hate 
to talk against the myth. It had many 
exciting features. Some were dis- 
appointing. The Utopian side went 
the way of Utopias. In the morning 



we held classes. In the afternoon there 
was a work program. Students were 
digging ditches, laying pipes and so 
forth. And the faculty, we chipped in 
and gaily too. Except after a couple 
of days some of the faculty would 
goof off and stay away. I at first 
chipped in you know, with my Tol- 
stoian spirit, very honestly. You 
know, you want to do your share but 
if it puts you in a position of a fool, 
well that's a different story. So that's 
the way it was. 



LAS When you left Black Mountain did 
you decide to settle in New York? 

IB I came back to New York. I stayed at 
my parents' place for a while. Then 
I went to teach at the University of 
Wyoming from 1948 to 1957. 



LAS During this long period of almost a 
decade, you were teaching and also 
painting? 

IB Yes. When I got my sabbatical at the 
University of Wyoming, I extended it 
into a two year leave. So actually I 
was teaching there seven years. And 
for the two years I was on leave, I 
taught at Brooklyn College. 



LAS Of course, what it really meant was, 
you got back to New York, into the 
thick of things, met earlier, old 
friends again and could arrange your 
own exhibitions. 

IB In Wyoming I had a great deal of 
time to devote to painting and I 
started doing movies there too. 



LAS You'd never made movies before? 
IB Not before I got to Wyoming, no. 

MP What kind of movies? 

IB Experimental films. Metanoia was 
awarded first prize in 1963 in Chicago. 
I use actors, I do trick photography 
and the plot develops out of the visual 
elements and generally there's some 
connection with some myth, either a 
Greek myth, or some myth I adapt 
to fit my own interpretation, or 
some myth I make up on my own. 
Metanoia is a myth I made up that 
had never existed before. It has one 
protagonist who sometimes looks like 
Christ the Martyr or the Redeemer 
and at other times, the Inquisitor. 
And then you think that he is the In- 
quisitor, and then you think he's just 
a poor lost soul in a tremendous, 
frightening world. The set is an old 
brewery, seven floors high and all 
floors partly bashed out. The prota- 
gonist has to walk on narrow cat- 
walks at great heights; and then you 
feel again that he is a triumphal fig- 
ure. Maybe that's how I feel about 
humanity and the way it sees itself. If 
Christ represents a certain idea of 
humanity, then that's maybe what 
it is. There he is, to me, a tortured 
human and there he is a triumphant 
god-like figure. So this is Metanoia, 
my interpretation of it. It's a myth 
that never was put together before. 

LAS Really, isn't that contradictory to the 
way you paint? 

IB In the films, I don't do abstractions. 
I feel the movie is purely an art of 
empathy, not abstraction. Because the 
camera, after all, is an eye that sees 



from nature. It hasn't got the intellect 
of the human eye and so I feel that a 
movie has to be visual. And abstrac- 
tion goes into the conceptual. It's not 
the same. Who knows, you can do 
abstractions with a movie camera 
but I think you may as well paint 
them. I think you get more if you do. 



LAS What other sorts of films have you 
done? 

IB I have tried a few sorts of satirical 
take-offs on some of Duchamp's 
work and some documentaries on 
him and other artists. For example, I 
did a movie of Duchamp all alone in 
his studio doing absolutely nothing 
and he did it very well. I mean it 
seriously. He occupied space. Some- 
times he looked like Sherlock Holmes, 
sometimes he was Duchamp, some- 
times a Dadaist, sometimes a phi- 
losopher, Mephistopheles, Faust and 
everything else. He projected very 
well. I also have a film of David Smith 
in color with his wife and first child. 



LAS I understand that you did a film of 

George L. K. Morris in his studio and 
one of Gabo and films of a variety of 
other artists. It would really make 
a fascinating movie to edit them 
together. 

IB Eventuallv I'll do all this. 



LAS Do you think your experiences out 
west in Wyoming had any effect on 
your painting? Stylistically, choice of 
colors .... 

IB I'm not sure. At first I thought all this 
experience was useful, and I suppose 
any experience is useful, but directly, 
I am not so sure. 



LAS One thing that's noticeable in the 
forties, say from after the War until 
early in the fifties, was your use of a 
very predominant grid pattern. Why 
did you do this and how long did it 
last with you? 

IB What you are refering to was a by- 
product of the influence of Mon- 
drian's last two paintings, except that 
the result visually is not the same. 
I had the intention of creating a 
counterpoint of colors, so that if you 
separated out each color in one paint- 
ing of this period and had all the 
yellows on one canvas, reds on 
another, blues on another, each one 
would be a rhythmic design in its own 
right. And all of them work together 
like a contrapuntal motif as in Bach, 
although it's a very approximate com- 
parison. That was my idea — to create 
a continuous counterpoint. 



LAS And you used the grid to separate 
these? 

IB No, there is no actual grid because 
with a grid all the spaces would be 
pretty much equal. In these paintings 
the spaces are different in size. 



MP You talked about rhythm and contra- 
puntal rhythm. Do you feel the 
way Kandinsky did about music 
and painting? That there is a direct 
analogy between the creation of 
abstract or non-objective art and 



which to me proves that there is 
something in common. If one gets in 
the way of the other, it's like playing 
two bits of music together at the same 
time. They get in each other's way. 
Whereas a conversation has a rhythm, 
but it's a very free rhythm so it's not 
strong enough to get in the way of 
a painting. 



LAS But you don't have any feeling as 
Kandinsky sometimes wrote, that 
yellow meant to him a particular 
sound, or red meant a certain other 
sound? 

IB For Kandinsky colors were actually 
sounds. I wouldn't go that far. He 
had a whole theory and I imagine that 
eventually psychologists may prove 
that in some cases he's quite right. It 
may be psychologically quite true 
but, it is not as important to me as 
it was to him. The trouble with Kan- 
dinsky to my mind is this: he was a 
very important artist historically and 
he was a great painter, but a lot of his 
work is so full of various visual 
experiments that they are pretty hard 
to see. So if you think of them as 
intuitive scholarly research, they're 
fine. If you think of them as plastic 
works, a lot of them are pretty 
unbearable to me. 



IB Well, there may be some because, for 
example, I can talk to people while 
I am painting, but I cannot have any 
music played while I am painting 
because the rhythm in music gets in 
the way of the rhythm I am painting, 



^3 



LAS Something else I have been particu- 
larly interested in — seeing your paint- 
ings from the forties especially and 
right up to the present day — is the 
way in which you define space. None 
of them seem to go very far backward 
into space. How do you define where 
the space is in relation to the surface 
and how do you range the colors and 
the shapes within this definable 
space? 

IB In the early forties I still used 
diagonals. A diagonal, of course, 
creates ambivalent depth— diagonal 
depth might go either back or forth. 
It's not like perspective which goes 
only one way. This ambivalence I dis- 
covered was antithetical to my style. 
Although I hated to give up diagonals, 
I had to give them up finally. 
Mondrian gave them up quite early 
in his career. Although he had used 
them very well, he had to give them 
up too. Glarner, on the other hand, 
rediscovered diagonals and he held 
on to them. We all solve our own 
practical problems. I had to give up 
diagonals because the space going 
back and forth was becoming too 
violent. The diagonal space was 
getting in the way of the tension on 
the flat surface. You cannot get an 
absolute flatness in painting because 
of the interplay of the colors, the way 
they feel to us. But you can achieve 
relative flatness, within which the 
colors and the proportions might 
push back and forth creating an extra 
tension. This tense flatness must not 
destroy the overall flat tension, which, 
to my mind, in two-dimensional 
painting is the most important thing. 
Now of course, in a different style, it's 
a different story. 



LAS When you think of your planes in the 
kind of composition you are doing 
now, do you envisage them as going 
behind the picture plane or in front 
of the picture plane, or isn't that 
important? 

IB I consider them as being tensions on 
the canvas, sort of pulling back and 
forth, but still on the canvas. They are 
not like planes in Cubism that go in 
front. They are on the surface, except 
some pull a bit forward, some pull a 
bit back, but they never go back and 
forth, say, as in Albers. When you 
see Albers long enough, after a while 
his rectangles begin doing this to you. 
It becomes almost hypnotic until you 
shake yourself out of it. 



LAS But that is not something that 
interests you really? 

IB No. That's why when people con- 
sider me and Albers of the same 
school, I think it's completely false, 
because the whole purpose is entirely 
different. He uses paint and I use 
paint, he uses hard edges, but it's not 
the same style at all. He wouldn't 
want to paint my way and I don't 
want to use any of his space. 



LAS In viewing your overall development, 
it is clear that the works have become 
very much larger. Would you have 
liked to have painted on a large scale 
in the thirties? 

IB It was too expensive to paint big in 
the thirties. I like doing murals be- 
cause you can paint big. The biggest 
one, of course, was in 1940. It was a 
fifty foot mural. But before then my 
first mural was eighteen feet across. 



2-4 



LAS Most of your canvases were twenty 
by thirty inches. 

IB That was a big size for the period. 
The only way to paint big at that 
time was to do murals. 



canvas. Of course the main reason 
that I started on odd shapes was the 
fact that the old masters used a vari- 
ety of formats for their paintings and 
murals. 



LAS Another thing that has become quite 
characteristic of your work since the 
middle fifties and especially in the last 
three or four years is that you are 
working with diamonds and tondos 
instead of rectangles. How did you 
become interested in working with 
these shapes? 

IB The first one I painted was a triangle. 
I found a triangular shape that was 
used by pool players and I stretched 
a canvas on it. Not a diamond shape, 
a triangular one, which is an inter- 
esting problem because, in general, I 
feel that a triangle is not a very 
pleasant shape. Wherever you look 
you feel you are confined by the 
angles, which are narrow. But the 
composition was curious. Then in 
Wyoming, I was given several wheels 
as a gift by some ranchers. I removed 
the spokes and I used a wagon wheel 
as a stretcher. This painting is in- 
cluded in the Guggenheim exhibition. 
This again was an interesting prob- 
lem because straight lines or straight 
edges within a round format, a circle, 
or the area which we might call a 
tondo, are affected by the edges and 
seem to curve away from the edges. 
It's like a string which is being 
plucked away from the edge but, since 
there are two edges, first one edge 
pushes it away and then the other. It 
results in an almost vibrating effect 
that you do not get in a rectangular 



LAS You mean Raphael and his tondos? 

IB Yes, and the modern avant garde 
generally stay very obediently within 
the rectangular format and do not 
seem to dare to go beyond it. 



LAS How, in a tondo, do you keep the 

composition from rolling? That has 
always been a problem. 

IB Well, you see, since I use straight 
lines or, as you might say, straight 
tensions, they create a counterbalance 
to the curved format and, if properly 
used, prevent it from spiralling or 
rolling. 



LAS Is the problem the same with an 
ellipse as with the tondo, or more 
difficult? 

IB An ellipse will also affect straight 
lines, not so much against the smaller 
curves but against the wider curves. 
Again, a straight line is pushed away 
from the edge and, again, there is a 
feeling almost of vibration, as with, 
the plucking of a string. 



MP But with the diamond-shaped canvas 
the problem of the edge becomes 
something quite different. How im- 
portant is the edge to you? 

IB The edge of the canvas is very im- 
portant. But of course both with a 
tondo and an ellipse, and also a 
diamond shape, the shapes truncated 



by these formats are inclined to con- 
tinue and to complete themselves as 
regular shapes beyond the canvas. 
The human eye will try to see them 
as complete geometric shapes. This is 
the reason we can create overlapping 
effects out of a lot of L-shaped planes 
in Cubism, for example. We feel they 
are a bunch of rectangles overlapping 
each other. The eye completes them 
and therefore you have this overlap 
effect. At least this is the explanation 
given by Gestalt psychologists. And 
so the active area of the diamond 
format canvas is larger psycholo- 
gically than it is physically, which is 
something gained. Another reason 
the diamond is bigger is that the 
diagonal measurements of a canvas 
are bigger than the dimensions of the 
same canvas measured as a square. 
A sensation of freedom is gained 
through this seemingly larger size. 



LAS You have been speaking of lines in 
many of your compositions. But in 
many of your canvases there are no 
lines at all. We're speaking of planes 
then, aren't we? 

IB No. I would consider the edges — 
what are now called hard edges — as 
lines. I would say that in my paint- 
ings, all the edges are linear tensions, 
at least in my own vocabulary, 
although I don't say that anyone else 
has to accept this vocabulary. 



LAS Can you tell us about some of the 
special problems involved in mural 
painting? 

IB The mural is not exactly an easel 
painting. With a mural, you think of 
the entire room and how the mural 
fits architecturally. A painting can be 
shown in many different rooms, so 
it's not entirely the same problem. 
When you show a painting, you hope 
that the room is not so ugly architec- 
turally that it will ruin your painting, 
but you don't really worry about the 
architecture. In the case of a mural, 
you try to be in sympathy with the 
space designed by the architects. This 
is not a simple proposition because 
the architect has to consider the 
zoning laws, the customer's taste, the 
various needs of plumbing pipes, of 
structural material and so forth. He 
may not be a pure artist. He is also 
bound by engineering. A mural may 
be pure art and yet the artist must 
consider limitations imposed on 
architecture. So it isn't quite what 
Mondrian thought of as architecture, 
the queen of the arts, combining all 
the pure elements in itself, because 
ideal architecture becomes Construc- 
tivism. It's beyond any zoning laws, 
beyond any customer's taste and be- 
yond any plumbing pipes. In other 
words, a mural by its nature has to be 
a sort of compromise with the space 
which is given to you. You might im- 
prove the space by creating a feeling 
that the room is wider than it really 
is, for example, or higher. 



2.6 



MP Is that your intention? 

IB In the case of the mural for the North 
Central Bronx Hospital, which I was 
commissioned to paint last year, the 



room is almost a couple of hundred 
feet long and only about thirty some 
odd feet wide. By having an ex- 
tremely strong horizontal movement 
in the mural, I sort of spread the 
space a bit. Now, this space is cer- 
tainly not the fault of the very tal- 
ented architect, Helge Westermann. 
He had to design within certain limi- 
tations a staff cafeteria for so many 
hundreds of people. He liked my 
mural very much for itself and be- 
cause it came in handy in doing some- 
thing to the space. This is not quite 
the same as Mondrian's idea of a 
room ideally designed including all 
the arts. It's rather a situation of two 
arts assisting each other. 



MP Could we discuss your technique? 
Why is it that you like to use a brush 
when you get all of the brushstrokes 
out of the surface of the canvas? 

IB If you look closely enough, the brush- 
work is there. It's much less obvious 
than in Mondrian, where it is quite 
rich, and in Malevich even richer. 
I avoid contrasting textures in my 
brushwork which almost create a 
collage effect. This is fine for some 
styles, but not for Neo-Plastic 
painting. 



LAS Do you build up a series of coats of 
brushwork on top of one another? 

IB Yes, but generally I paint in parallel 
strokes. 



LAS Sometimes you feel with Mondrian, 
he was painting with the end of his 
brush. How do you lay the paint on? 

IB I use long-hair brushes and I paint 
flat to get a smoother texture but still 
there is brushwork. The texture is 
there, but it is minimized. It's still 
handwork, it's not any mechanical 
process, like using a roller. 



MP Do you object to using mechanical 
devices? 

IB Well, personally I don't feel the need 
of them, though I would use them if 
I did. 



LAS Do you like the physical, sensuous 
effect of using a brush, is it an es- 
sential part of your whole artistic 
experience? 

IB Yes, to me it gives you more of the 
feeling of the paint quality. 



LAS Is this true in your studies, most of 
which are either gouaches or casein 
rather than watercolor. In these, the 
stroke is very different, much richer 
and thicker, than in a watercolor. 

IB Casein is more sensuous than water- 
color; so is acrylic. I don't like water- 
color. It's too thin, there is no body 
to it. 



LAS When and how did you decide to do 
sculpture? 

IB I did an abstract stone carving before 
the Second World War. And I also 
did two small semi-abstract wooden 
carvings of figures. Not until the 
early 1960's did I start on the 



27 



columns. I started them because at 
that time I was painting around the 
edges of the canvas rather than just 
up to the edge of the painting, and I 
was ready for a three-dimensional 
approach. Besides, of course, one of 
the tenets of the philosophy of Neo- 
plastic painting is that architecture 
and art should be very much united. 
I have some reservations about ob- 
taining pure results from this though. 
In the late fifties I rented a studio in 
New Paltz, New York. The owner of 
the building was a woodworker and 
he had all sorts of leftover cubes of 
wood and columns. So I had a chance 
to buy some stuff and get started. You 
might say it's rather odd that I didn't 
do it before. Well, you know when 
you teach fulltime, paint most of the 
night, grade papers, you haven't got 
much energy to go out and shop for 
things, so this was a Godsend. I 
started doing columns. The first ones, 
I made from some cubes of wood. 
First I painted them in oil but I 
realized that oil had too rich a tex- 
ture for such columns. It looked too 
velvety. Acrylic is a much dryer, 
crisper medium and is better. 



MP Do you ever use acrylic on your 
canvases now? 

IB Now I use acrylic on my canvases be- 
cause they go to many traveling shows 
and ofren get banged up; and acrylic 
can be restored more easily than oil. 
It dries more quickly, so you can 
paint twenty canvases and the studio 
is still possible to use. And I like the 
texture. In oils I always wanted to 
achieve a dull finish. If you do it by 



diluting the oil medium too much, 
your paintings become very fragile. In 
acrylic you get a dull finish without 
damaging the medium. 



LAS How do you prepare the ground for 
an acrylic? 

IB I prime canvases with acrylic gesso 
and sand the ground before I start 
to paint. Otherwise you get too much 
texture. 



LAS Have you ever tried a staining tech- 
nique? Does that interest you at all? 

IB No, it's too much like watercolor. I 
don't like watercolor and I don't like 
stains. Again, I'm not against it for 
others, only for myself. 



LAS Can we discuss your color? I don't 
think that I have ever seen green in 
one of your canvases. Does this fol- 
low along with Mondrian's hatred 
of green? Or just don't you like green 
anyway? 

IB Well, I don't like green. Although I 
try to use it. I tried to use green and 
finally I couldn't stand it. Somehow 
it wasn't a final color. Green is con- 
sidered nowadays to be one of the 
primary colors. Yellowish-green, 
orange-ish-red, and purplish-blue. 
These are the primaries. Not what 
Mondrian considered to be the 
primaries— blue, yellow and red. 
These are no longer the primaries, 
but I accept Mondrian's primaries as 
being the correct psychological 
ones. The others, even if they are 
scientifically primaries, somehow just 
don't feel right. 



LAS What are your favorite blues? 

IB I use different types of blues. I'm not 
a purist like Mondrian. I'll go from 
medium blue to light, from purplish- 
blue to light cerulean and use very 
deep blue too. Sometimes I might 
even use black as a color although 
black, as any Impressionist could 
have told you, is not a color. Black 
pigment in a very dark painting, let's 
say, opposed to purple or purplish- 
blue becomes deep golden-greenish. 
So the colors on the periphery of 
blackness can achieve very interesting, 
unusual effects. And colors on the 
periphery of whiteness can change 
their character. This has not been 
explored quite enough. I've done 
some white paintings. 



LAS How do you get the opalescent effect 
in the white? Those white canvases 
are called Opalescent. 

IB They must have some off-white 
shades of blue in them. If a color is 
almost white, but actually is a 
greenish-blue opposed to a color 
which is almost white but slightly 
violet-blue, and there is one which 
you might call, artistically — not 
scientifically—, more or less pure 
blue which is also almost white, 
and they are placed next to each 
other, the human eye first of all might 
see them separately as plain white. 
When you see them together they 
vibrate and the whole thing seems to 
shimmer. You finally distinguish be- 
tween them— the greenish ones be- 
come green, the purplish ones become 
purple and the one in the middle, 
which you called pure blue, your eye 
cannot see any more as blue and be- 
gins to see it as a cream color. As I 



said, you create an interesting shim- 
mer, an opalescence, which is not the 
same as the Impressionists would 
use. It's using a color contrast: two 
colors close to white and a third color 
which is so close to both that the 
human eye, on seeing the two con- 
trasting ones cannot perceive the 
color of the third because it's too 
close to both of them, so it sees it as 
something else. And so the eye sees it 
as a complementary which becomes 
almost cream. 



MP Can you tell us about your work 

habits? Do you use measurements or 
preliminary studies, or do you use 
tapes the way Mondrian did? Do you 
work in a formularized way or 
would you say you were much more 
intuitive? 

IB It's very hard to define. Nowadays, I 
might do a little scribble, then the 
idea develops, then I go ahead. Some- 
times I might make sketches of the 
mural after the mural is done and I 
might develop other sketches from 
that. I can't say. As to intuition, 
Vantongerloo was a painter who used 
to develop mathematical formulae 
into art. And at the end of his life he 
decided this was a lot of balderdash 
because he realized he was using 
intuition. He was using his intuition 
to construct. And I know, of course, 
that Le Corbusier used mathematics, 
but if he didn't have intuition as an 
artist he wouldn't have been Le 
Corbusier. So beyond all his mathe- 
matics, Le Corbusier was still the 
intuitive poet, except the poet was a 
Constructivist and not a lyrical, 
romantic poet. You might say, well, 



*9 



if he was using intuition, why wasn't 
he an Expressionist? There are dif- 
ferent types of intuition. There is an 
entirely intellectual intuition and 
there is a very, very emotional intui- 
tion. Without intuition you cannot be 
much of an artist. 



MP I think what I was actually getting at 
is, do you start with any preconceived 
proportions? 

IB No, because I know there are all sorts 
of possibilities from my previous 
experiments, but as to which one is 
right in each case, which combina- 
tion, what new development, I am 
not sure. I mean I might try something 
and then that idea develops. As to 
how, I don't know ... the ideas come 
in different sorts of ways. Sometimes 
while conversing with somebody on 
totally irrelevant subjects I relax, an 
idea clicks and there I see it. I think 
this is true of many people but they're 
not conscious of it. 



LAS When you walk into the studio in the 
morning, feeling that you want to 
get down to painting, what motivates 
you consciously or unconsciously as 
to what to lay out on your palette? 

IB I wouldn't be too sure of even that, 
because as I start dividing the canvas, 
somehow the divisions suggest colors. 
Then I wipe them out, change pro- 
portions and a different set of colors 
imposes itself. Areas of color seem to 
dictate each other. It's not like 
Kandinsky's idea of a shape dictating 
a color because I don't use any variety 
of shapes, only proportions. 



LAS And you work it out as you go along? 

IB Generally so. The idea develops in 
the process. I could tell you I have a 
great scientific system, but that 
wouldn't be honest. 



LAS I think we could describe you as an 
intuitive intellectual painter. 

IB I suspect that most artists are. Even 
if they never admit it. I suspect that 
most of our thinking is based, first 
of all, upon some intuition and then 
some intellectual system develops out 
of that. I am discussing a certain inner 
human need. Maybe you are creating 
some proportions in a painting that 
for some reason are satisfying to you 
and yet you cannot quite put it in 
words. But then, you can explain 
the direction of a style, the purpose, 
though not why this proportion fits 
here better than another. Somebody 
might say the other one is just as 
good, maybe slightly better. So you 
get into a field which is beyond 
language. Otherwise you would be 
able to say it better in an article than 
a painting. 

LAS That's what is right about Picasso's 
saying "If I could have said it I would 
have said it and not painted it." 

MP Speaking of saying it and not painting 
it, I think we're getting into another 
area, that of theory. Would you say 
that your aesthetic is tied to a 
philosophy, a religious concept, a 
way of life? 

IB It's definitely connected to Platonism 
and definitely parallels Worringer's 
book Abstraction and Empathy in 
regard to abstraction. 



3° 



LAS Mondrian has a certain element of 

religion in his total aesthetic theories. 
He was, after all, early in his life, a 
Theosophist. Do you think mysticism 
is important in your work? 

IB 1 wouldn't say it is. Mondrian was a 
Theosophist and so was Kandinsky. 
Yet the results were entirely different 
on canvas. Kandinsky's work is ex- 
plosive and mystical and Mondrian's 
is architectonic and the mysticism 
there is almost mathematical, though 
he didn't use mathematics. 



LAS What are your religious feelings? 

IB I'm an agnostic. I like Plato's idea of 
the absolute, of the existence of the 
absolute someplace— whether this 
absolute has independent being or is 
a product of the human mind. Ac- 
cording to Plato, you know, all these 
ideas are real. Not, of course, as 
physical existence, but they form a 
real, abstract world— the absolute. 



LAS And you think, as an artist, you can 
present that in your work? 

IB Well, I can approach it. I don't think 
you can ever present any absolute in 
art. But you can do your best to 
approach it. 



LAS But that's what you are striving for 
. . . the absolute? 

IB Yes, it's a continuing approach. If you 
ever achieved an absolute, you would 
have to stop painting because there's 
only one absolute possible. Since I 
am still painting, it means I have 
never quite achieved it. Mondrian did 



the best Neo-Plastic paintings ever 
possible, but he still couldn't do 
only one painting. There was room 
for more approaches toward the 
absolute. On the human scale they 
were absolute enough, but not on an 
ideal Platonic scale. 



MP I'm sorry to keep using Mondrian as 
a touchstone but he really is a touch- 
stone, because the next question is 
about symbolism and reading sym- 
bolism into art. You know, it has 
been suggested that the vertical and 
horizontal represent maleness and 
femaleness in Mondrian's work; the 
Ying and the Yang, the squaring of 
the circle, perfection and so on. How 
would you relate that kind of think- 
ing, that kind of system to your 
own work? 

IB I don't know whether Mondrian ever 
worried about the Ying and the Yang, 
the sex idea behind the horizontals 
and verticals. Since this idea is so 
prevalent and everybody is assuming 
everything, you might as well ignore 
it. In other words, if everybody is 
immersed in such basics of human 
psychology, and if Mondrian had it 
just like everybody else, then it's 
nothing special, so let's just skip it. 
I am human, I am, of course, the 
same as others. But we are discussing 
that which has to do with Neo- 
Plasticism, not that which is common 
to all humanity. 



3i 



LAS You're not conscious of symbolism 
in your own work? 

IB No. Symbolism in my style is not at 
all important and actually it is to be 
avoided. Because it means that a 
painting is not what it is, but rep- 
resents something else. 

MP What is the intention in your painting, 
what is the intended communication? 

IB The communication would be the 
creation of an ideal, balanced har- 
mony. Something that in actual, 
biological existence is not given to 
man. And this is the Platonic ideal, 
the absolute, the ideal harmonious 
balance, which is not still, not sym- 
metrical, but dynamic. 

LAS And that's why the inner tension 
becomes so important? 

IB This is the idea of Neo-Plasticism. 
And that's the way it is different from 
geometric painting, which strives 
for interesting combinations of geo- 
metric elements. Of course, you might 
say this is what Plato meant. Well, I 
don't think so. Plato thought geo- 
metric shapes were absolute. He said 
if you created art based on them, it 
would be absolute art. Yes, but if 
you oppose many geometric shapes 
against each other, you get associa- 
tions, images and you go off again 
into stylization and stylized realism. I 
am sure he wouldn't have liked it. Of 
course he was too extreme. He felt 
that artists were liars. So when I talk 
about Plato, I mean Plato as inter- 
preted from my own particular 
preference. 



LAS Can you explain how you came to 
choose the Neo-Plastic direction? 

IB I can give you all sorts of reasons 
which may be completely false about 
why I prefer to paint in the Neo- 
plastic style. It is my own reaction 
to whatever I experienced. Of course, 
other people who went through 
similar things paint automatic or Ex- 
pressionist works— so that it is not 
necessarily an explanation that would 
fit every case. After I went through a 
lot of violent historical upheavals in 
my early life, I came to prefer a search 
for an ideal harmony and order which 
is still a free order, not militaristic, 
not symmetrical, not goose-stepping, 
not academic, you see. And this is 
my taste. Now you might say, where 
do you go from here, what do you do 
next? This somehow never bothered 
me because in the process of painting 
new possibilities develop and you can 
always go on. If your love of painting 
and your ability are sufficient, then 
your work will continue. 






3* 



Works in the Exhibition 



33 



Paintings 



White Abstraction. 1934-35 

Oil on canvas, 35 x 19" 

Collection Robert Hull Fleming 
Museum, The University of Vermont, 
Burlington, Vermont 



Painting from Collage. 1937-40? 
Oil on canvas, 12. x iz 13 /i6" 
Lent by the artist 



U 





34 



Abstraction in Pink. 1939 

Oil and gesso on masonite, 30 x 2.7" 

Lent bv the artist 




35 



Construction. 1939 

Oil and wood on board, 26 x 36" 

Grey Art Gallery and Art Study 
Center, New York University, 
Anonymous Gift 





36 



Oil Study for A lural for Health 
Building, Hall of Medical Science, 
New York World's Fair. 1938-39 

Oil on canvas, 30 x 48" 

Lent by the artist 




37 



Untitled. 1939 

Oil on wood, 9 '4 x \x x k" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. George L. K. 
Morris 




38 



Abstraction in Light Blue. 1940 

Oil on wood, 8 x 10" 

Collection Philadelphia Museum 
of Art, A. E. Gallatin Collection 





39 



Untitled Abstraction, c. 1940 

Oil on canvas, 18 x 24" 

The Phillips Collection, Washington, 
D.C. 



U)ititled Abstraction, c. 1940 

Oil on composition panel, 10 x 7" 

The Phillips Collection, Washington, 
D.C. 





40 



Construction in a Square. 194° 
Oil on canvas, 30 x 30" 
Lent by the artist 




4i 



Marine Abstraction. 1940 
Oil on canvas, 20% x 3 2.14 " 
Lent by the artist 




42 



Black and White. 1945 
Oil on canvas, 21 x 33" 
Lent by the artist 




43 



13 




Upright in Gold and Violet. 1945 

Oil on canvas, 41 x 2.2." 

Collection The Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, New York 



14 

White on Brown. 1945 
Oil on canvas, 10 x 30" 
Lent by the artist 



44 




IS 



Diagonal Plane. 1947 
Oil on canvas, 10 x 40" 
Lent by the artist 




45 



i6 

Opalescent. 1947 

Oil on canvas, 32 x Z4" 

Lent by Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 
New York 











46 



17 

Arctic Diamond. 1948 
Oil on canvas, 30 x 30" 
Lent bv the artist 




47 



i8 

City Rectangle. 1949 
Oil on canvas, 34 x 26" 
Lent by the artist 




48 



19 



Rectangular Space. 1949 
Oil on canvas, 40% x z6'/:" 
Lent hv the artist 




49 



20 

Somber Key. 1949 
Oil on canvas, 36 x 42" 
Lent by the artist 




50 



Configurations within a Diamond. 
195 1 

Oil on canvas, 42 x 42" 
Lent bv the artist 




51 



Large Architectural. 1951 

Oil on canvas, 65 x 91" 

Grey Art Gallery and Art Study 
Center, New York University, 
Anonymous Gift 




52- 



13 

Large Vertical. 1951-59 

Oil on canvas, 9 5 14 x 40V2" 

Collection Whitney Museum of 
American Art, New York, Gift of 
Mr. and Mrs. N. E. Waldman 




m 







53 



14 

Red Key. 1952. 

Oil on canvas, 34 x 12" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Warren 
Brandt 




54 



2-5 

Toiuio. 1952-59 

Oil on canvas, 42." diameter 

Collection Bernard S. Solomon, 
New York 




55 



z6 

Blue Rectangles. 1953 

Oil on canvas, 34 x 42" 

Collection Whitney Museum of 
American Art, New York 



1 

^1 


1 



56 



17 



1 1 

j 

1 

"J \— 



I i | J_ _ 



Opalescent Vertical. 1955 

Oil on canvas, 34 x 11" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Warren 
Brandt 



57 



i8 

White Circle. 1955 

Oil on canvas, 42." diameter 

Grey Art Gallery and Art Study 
Center, New York University, Gift of 
Isadore Pizitz 



58 



2-9 

White Oval. 1955 

Oil on canvas, 18X8 x 24%" 

Collection The Cleveland Museum 
of Art 







^t 






































/ 






s 

1 



































































































59 



30 

Vertical Oval. 1956-57 

Oil on canvas, 45 1 / x 3 5 14" 

Collection Richard Gray, 
Chicago 




60 



Large Cobalt Diamond. 1957 
Oil on canvas, 57 x 57" 
Collection Richard Brown Baker 








■ 



61 



r- 

White Circle. 1958 

Oil on canvas, 60V diameter 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York. Gift of N. E. 
Waldman, i960 



62. 



33 

Horizontal or Vertical. 1960-64 

Oil on canvas, 64 x 32" 

Collection of The Chase 
Manhattan Bank 





63 



34 

Red Tondo. 1961 

Oil on canvas, 47" diameter 

Collection American Republic 
Insurance Company, Des Moines, 
Iowa 




64 



35 

Red and Black Tondo. 1962 
Oil on canvas, 49V2" diameter 
Collection Sue and David Workman 




65 



36 

Black Ellipse. 1963 

Oil on canvas, 51 x 35V2" 

Lent by the artist 




66 



37 

Blue Plane. 1963 

Oil on canvas, 6 9 Vi x 86V2" 

Collection The Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, New York 




67 



Red and White. 1964 

Oil on canvas, 60 x 76" 

The John F. Kennedy International 
Airport Collection, The Port 
Authority of New York and 
New Jersey 




68 



39 

Rising Tondo. 1964-65 

Oil on canvas, 58V2" diameter 

Collection University Art Museum, 
University of New Mexico, 
Albuquerque 




69 



4 o 

White on White. 1965 
Oil on canvas, 42. x 42" 
Lent by the artist 



70 



4i 

Black and Red Diamond. 1967 

Oil on canvas, 52V2 x 52V2" 

Collection of The Chase 
Manhattan Bank 






7i 



42- 

Black Red Diamond II. 1967 

Synthetic polymer on canvas, 52. x 52" 

Collection Whitney Museum of 

American Art, New York, 

Gift of Phillip Morris, Incorporated 





43 

RedTondo. 1967-68 

Oil on canvas, 47V2" diameter 

F. M. Hall Collection, University of 
Nebraska Art Galleries, Lincoln 




73 



44 

Large Blue Horizontal. 1968 

Oil on canvas, diptych, total 
48 x 12.0 

The Michener Collection, 

The University of Texas at Austin 




74 



45 

Vertical Lines. 1968 

Oil on canvas, 72 x 40" 

Collection University of Iowa 
Museum of Art, Iowa City, 
Gift of the artist 



■ 



75 



4 6 

Diamond: Dominant Blue, White, 
Red. 1969 

Oil on canvas, 48 x 48" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm 
Lowenstein, Franklin, Michigan 




76 



47 

Scarlet Diamond. 1969 

Oil on canvas, 48 x 48" 

Collection Albright-Knox Art 
Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 
Gift of Seymour H. Knox 




77 



4« 

Tondo with Blue and Yelloiv. 1969 

Acrylic on canvas, 47W diameter 

Collection Dr. and Mrs. Sidney 
Merians 





78 



49 

Torreon Diamond. 1969 

Acrylic on canvas, 42 x 42" 

Collection Fidelity International Bank 




79 



50 

Vertical Blue. 1969 

Acrylic on canvas, 40" diameter 

Private Collection 




80 



5i 

Elongated Diamond. 1970 

Acrylic on canvas, 79 x 46" 

Lent by Grace Borgcnicht Gallery, 
New York 




81 



Vibrant Yellow Diamond. 1970 

Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48" 

Lent by Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 
New York 



53 

Dark Diamond. 1971 

Acrylic on canvas, 40V2 x 42." 

Private Collection, Great Neck, 
New York 






83 



54 

Large Black, Red and White 
Diamond. 1971 

Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48" 

Collection Dr. and Mrs. Sidney 
Merians 




55 

Large Vertical Rectangle, Red, 
White, Yellow. 1971 

Acrylic on canvas, 72. x 36" 

Collection Jeffrey Kasch, Milwaukee 




85 



56 

Vibrant Reds. 1971 

Acrylic on canvas, 72 V6 x 48V6" 

The National Collection of Fine Arts, 
Smithsonian Institution, 
Washington, D.C. 




86 



57 

Yellow and Gray Diamond. 1971 
Acrylic on canvas, 41 x 42." 
Private Collection 



87 



5« 

Ellipse Red Vertical. 1971-72 

Acrylic on canvas, 51 x 35" 

Lent by Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 
New York 




59 

Diamond with Yellow and 
Orange. 1972. 

Acrylic on canvas, 46V2 x 46V2" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Sidney 
Singer, Jr. 





89 



<So 

Red Rectangle. 1972 

Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 54" 

Lent by Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 
New York 




90 



6i 

Vertical Ellipse, Yellow, Black 
and Red. 1971 

Acrylic on canvas, 67V2 x 45 14" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. 
Lombard, New York 



^ 




91 



Yellow Tondo. 1972. 

Acrylic on canvas, 47V2" diameter 

Collection Sue and David Workman 





63 

/)(•<•/' Blue Diamond. 1973 

Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Stephen 
Singer 





93 



6 4 

Mural for North Central Bronx 
Hospital, New York City. 1973 

Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 264" 

Lent by the artist. 




94 



65 

RedTondo. 1973 

Acrylic on canvas, 39V2" diameter 

Lent by Mr. and Mrs. Saul Z. Cohen 




95 



Study for Mural for North Central 
Bronx Hospital, New York City. 1973 

Casein on masonite, 9 x 23" 

Lent by the artist 




96 



67 

Two White Rectangles. 1973 

Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 66" 

Collection of Ciba-Geigy 
Corporation, Ardsley, New York 




97 



Variation in Red, Diamond. 1973 

Acrylic on canvas, 62 x 62." 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Paul C. 
Schorr, III, Lincoln, Nebraska 




98 



6 9 

White Verticil with Blue, Red and 
Yellow. 1973 

Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48" 

Lent by Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 
New York 




99 



7° 

Pale Blue Tondo with Dark 
Blue. 1974 

Acrylic on canvas, 47V2" diameter 

Collection Loretta and Robert 
K. Lifton 



Works on Paper 



71 



Myrrba and Herbert, c. 192.4 
Pencil on paper, 9x12" 
Lent by the artist 




72- 



73 



Self Portrait. 1929 

Pencil on paper, iiVks x 8V2" 

Lent by the artist 



Portrait of Myrrha. 1930 
Oil on paper, 14 x 9%" 
Lent by the artist 








I 



<*4* 



l A 









1 



74 

Mural Sketch for Williamsburg 
Housing Project, Brooklyn, 
New York. 1936? 

Casein and ink on paper, 16V2 x 30" 

Lent by the artist 



75 

Abstraction. 1937 

Casein, ink and collage on paper, 

9 X 1 1 V2 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. George 
L. K. Morris 




76 

Mural Sketch for Health Building, 
Hall of Medical Science, Neu> York 
World's Fair (First Version). 1937? 

Casein and collage on paper, 
13 94 x 10" 

Lent by the artist 




104 



77 

Mural Sketch for Health Building, 
Hall of Medical Science, New York 
World's Fair (Intermediary Version). 
1938? 

Casein, ink and pencil on paper, 

10 X 2i" 

Lent by the artist 




V 




105 



78 

Double Composition. 1939 

Gouache on paper, 3V2 x yVs" 

Private Collection, Great Neck, 
New York 





J* 5 - J^.T—.J^ 



IO6 



79 

Mural Sketch for Health Building, 
Hall of Medical Science, Neiv York 
World's Fair (Final Sketch). 1939? 

Casein on paper, 13M x 2.4V4" 

Lent by the artist 



.. - 









A 



Jrj 




107 



8o 

Mural Sketch for Day Room, 
Chronic Diseases Hospital, Welfare 
Island, Neiv York. 1940? 

Casein and pencil on paper, 
15V6 x 29-%" 

Lent by the artist 




;. d! .^-£?_ 



108 



Sketch #i. c. 1940 

Gouache on paper, 3V2 x ioys" 

Private Collection, Great Neck, 
New York 




109 



82 

Wounded Pilot. Alaska, 1944 
India ink on paper, 10V16 x 14V16" 
Lent by the artist 
















; 


] \ 






/ 













83 

Myrrha and Ralph. 1946 
Pencil on paper, 9M x 11" 
Lent by the artist 



8 4 

Sketch #2. 1946 

Gouache on paper, 4 x 11%" 

Private Collection, Great Neck, 
New York 




85 

Untitled. 1950 

Gouache on paper, 8V2 x 11" 

Collection Silvia Pizitz 




nz 



86 

Mural Sketch for Cinema I Wall, 
Neiv York. 1962 

Casein on paper, 2 x 46" 

Lent hv the artist 



113 



Sculpture 



87 

Column. 1962. 

Oil on lucite, 24x1x1" 

Collection J. Daniel Selig 



When four measurements are given, they 
represent the sculpture's height followed 
by the width of each of its three sides. 



114 



Aluminum Column. 1964 

Oil on aluminum, 36 x zVi x zVi" 

Collection The Aldrich Museum of 
Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, 
Connecticut 



89 

Three Units. 1964 

Oil on wood, 15M6X 5 x 4VS1" 

Collection Richard Brown Baker 





115 



9 o 

Dark Red Column. 1966 

Acrylic on wood, 48x8x8x8" 

Collection Mr. E. M. Black, 
New York 




116 



9i 

Metal Column B 1966. 1966 

Oil on aluminum, 36 x 2V2 x 2.V2" 

Collection Walker Art Center, 
Minneapolis 




"7 



9^ 

Large Trylon, Red, White and 
Yellow. 1971 

Acrylic on wood, 84 x 9 x 9 x 9" 

Collection The Museum Section: 
Guild Hall of East Hampton, 
New York 





93 



Double Column, Red, Blue and 
Yellow. 1972 

Acrylic on wood, 36 x 14 x 5" 

Lent by Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 
New York 




94 

Trylon Eight-foot with Two 
Blues. 1974 

Acrylic on wood, 96 x 9 x 9 x 9" 

The Joseph H. Hirshhorn Collection 




Chronology 



1907 

Born in Petrograd, Russia, July 1. 
Early schooling in Russia. 



1921-23 

Attended College of St. Joseph, 
Constantinople. 

1923 

To United States. 



1924-30 

Studied at National Academy of 
Design, New York; received their first 
prize for drawing 1925, 1926; 
their Hallgarten Prize for Painting 
1929, 1930; Louis Comfort Tiffany 
Foundation Scholarship, 1929, 1930. 



1924-33 

Worked in figurative, 

semi-abstract style. 



1929 

Became United States citizen. 



1930 

First one-man exhibition, New York. 



1932 

Traveled in Europe. 



1933 

Received Yaddo Foundation 
Fellowship, Saratoga Springs, New 
York. For first time saw Mondrians 
in Gallatin Collection, Miros in 
Pierre Matisse Gallery exhibition: 
extremely important experiences for 
him. First abstract work; main 
influences on his early abstraction 
were Miro and Suprematism. 

mid 1930's 

Member of The Ten, artists' group 
which included Rothko, Gottlieb 
and others. From now until the end 
of the 30's, active member of WPA 
Federal Arts Project program for 
which he created numerous murals. 

1936 

Mural, Williamsburg Housing 
Project, New York: one of first 
abstract murals in the United States. 
Participated in American Artists' 
Congress. Co-founder and charter 
member American Abstract Artists: 
subsequently participated in their 
annual exhibitions. 



1939 

Mural, Hall of Medical Science, 
World's Fair, New York. 
Co-founder Federation of Modern 
Painters and Sculptors. 



1941 

Received grant from The Museum 
of Non-Objective Painting, New 
York. Mural, Chronic Diseases 
Hospital, New York; mosaic mural 
Theodore Roosevelt High School, 
New York. 



1942 

Military service in Alaska; began 
collection of North West Coast 
Indian and Eskimo art. 

mid 1940's 

Influence of Mondrian on his 
work became more pronounced; 
emergence of his Neo-Plastic style. 

1946 

Two murals, Phillips Steel Co., 

Pittsburgh. 

1946-48 

Acting Head of Art Department, 

Black Mountain College, 

Black Mountain, North Carolina. 

1948-57 

Associate Professor of Art, 

University of Wyoming, Laramie. 



1953-54 

University of Wyoming Graduate 
School grant for experimental 
film work. 



1954-56 

Adjunct Professor, Brooklyn College, 

New York. 



1954 

First of recurring one-man exhibi- 
tions at Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 

New York. 

1957-65 

Professor of Art, 
State Teachers' College, 
New Paltz, New York. 



1959 

First prize for painting, 

Sharon Creative Arts Foundation, 

Connecticut. 



1961 

Began painted columns. 

1963 

Mural, Cinema I, New York. 
First prize for Metanoia, 
Midwest Film Festival, 
University of Chicago. 



1965-71 

Professor of Art, 

University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. 

1968 

Mural, Southampton College, 
New York. 



1969 

Visiting Professor of Art, 

University of New Mexico, 

Albuquerque. 



1970 

Series of six lectures, 
Graduate School of Fine Arts, 
Columbia University, New York. 



1971 

National Institute of Arts and Letters 

prize for abstract painting. 



1973 

Adjunct Professor, graduate honors 

course, Queens College, New York. 

Mural, North Central Bronx 

Hospital, New York. 

John Simon Guggenheim 

Memorial Foundation Grant. 



1963-64 

Adjunct Professor of Art, 

Hunter College, New York. 



Selected Group 
Exhibitions 



G.R.D. Studios, New York, Fall 1929 

Fine Arts Gallery, New York, 
National Academy of Design, Fall 
Exhibition, 1919 

Christodora House, New York, 
exhibition organized by the New 
York Regional Council of The Art 
Center, Inc., New York, December 
1919 

Art Association of Harrisburg, 
Pennsylvania, exhibition organized 
by The Art Center, Inc., New York, 
January 1930 

American Art Association, Anderson 
Galleries, Inc., New York, Louis 
Comfort Tiffany Foundation 
Eleventh Exhibition, November 
5-22, 1930 

Checklist 

Municipal Art Committee Gallery, 
New York, January 1936 

Museum of Modern Art, New York, 
New Horizons in American Art, 
September 14-October 12, 1936 

Catalogue with introduction by 
Holger Cahill 

Galerie Bonaparte, Paris, Exposition 
"The Ten," November 10-24, 1936 

Checklist with foreword 



Montross Gallery, New York, Second 
Annual Exhibition "The Ten," 
December 14, 1936-January 2, 1937 

Announcement and checklist 

John Wanamaker Gallery, New 
York, 2nd Annual Membership 
Exhibition, American Artists 
Congress, May 5-21, 1938 

Catalogue with preface by Stuart 
Davis, note by Victor Cardell 

Georgette Passedoit Gallery, New 
York, The Ten, May 9-21, 1938 

Wildenstein and Co., Inc., Galleries, 
New York, Second Annual Federation 
of Modern Painters and Sculptors, 
May 21-June 10, 1942 

Catalogue with foreword 

Portraits, Inc., New York, As We See 
Them, Federation of Modern 
Painters and Sculptors, October- 
November 3, 1943 

Museum of Non-Objective Painting, 
New York, American Non- 
Objectives, November 1, 1942- 
January 30, 1943 

Checklist 

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Eight 
by Eight, American Abstract Painting 
Since 1940, March 7-April 1, 1945 

Catalogue with foreword by George 
L.K. Morris 



Museum of Non-Objective Painting, 
New York, Loan Exhibition, opened 
June 6, 1945 

Checklist 

The Pinacotheca, New York, Abstract 
Group, March-April 1946 

American-British Art Center, New 
York, 10th Annual Exhibition, 
American Abstract Artists, March 
25-April 13, 1946 

Announcement 

Museum of Non-Objective Painting, 
New York, Loan Exhibition, June 
5-October 14, 1946 

Checklist 

Wildenstein and Co., Inc., Galleries, 
New York, Sixth Annual Exhibition 
of Paintings and Sculpture by 
Members of The Federation of 
Modern Painters and Sculptors, and 
Guest Artists, September 18-October 
5,i946 
Catalogue 

Carnegie Institute, Department of 
Fine Arts, Pittsburgh, Painting in the 
United States— 1946, October 10- 
December 8, 1946 

Catalogue 



The Pinacotheca Gallery, New York, 
The White Plane, March 19-April 
n,i947 
Checklist 

Kunsthaus Zurich, Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Foundation, 
Zeitgenossische Kunst und 
Kunstpflege in U.S.A., October 15- 
December 15, 1947; shown at 
Karlsruhe, Kunsthalle (as 
Gegendstandlose Malerie in 
Amerika), March 18-April 18, 1948; 
Munich, Kunstrunde, May-June; 
Mannheim, Stadtische Kunsthalle, 
July; Frankfurt am Main, 
Kunstkabinett, August-September; 
Kassel, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, 
October; Braunschweig, Galerie Otto 
Ralfs, November; Hamburg, 
Kunstrunde, December, Hanover, 
Landesmuseum, January 1949; 
Dusseldorf, Kunsthalle, 1949; Essen, 
1949; Karlsruhe, Kunsthalle, July; 
Bremerhaven, Firma Nordkunst, 
November 19-December 25; Munich, 
Amerika-Haus, 1950; Bremerhaven, 
Amerika-Haus, June-August; 
Hamburg, Amerika-Haus, September; 
Bremen, Amerika-Haus, October; 
Hamburg, Amerika-Haus, 
November; Braunschweig, Amerika- 
Haus, December 

Catalogue with preface by W. 
Wartmann, introduction by Hilla 
von Rebay 



Museum of Non-Objective Painting, 
New York, Loan Exhibition, October 
15-December 30, 1947 

The Art Institute of Chicago, 
Abstract and Surrealist American 
Art, November 6, 1947-January 
n, 1948 

Catalogue with foreword by Daniel 
Catton Rich, notes by Frederick A. 
Sweet and Katherine Kuh 

Paris, Realites nouvelles no. 1, 1947 

Catalogue with foreword by A. 
Fredo Sides 

Chinese Gallery Ltd., New York, 
194S Annual American Abstract 
Artists, May 29-June 18, 1948 

Checklist 

Palais de Beaux-Arts de la Ville de 
Paris, Realites nouvelles no. 2, July 
23-August 17, 1948 

Catalogue with foreword by A. 
Fredo Sides 

Wildenstein and Co. Gallery, New 
York, The American Federation of 
Painters and Sculptors, to October 
2,1948 

Museum of Non-Objective Painting, 
New York, New Exhibition- 
American Non-Objective Painters, 
February 22-May 29, 1949 

Checklist 



113 



Riverside Museum, New York, 13th 
Annual Exhibition, American 
Abstract Artists, March 29-April 
17, 1949 
Announcement 

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 
Post-Mondrian Painters, 1949, May 
16-June 11, 1949 

Announcement 

Museum of Non-Objective Painting, 
New York, Loan Exhibition, 
October 1 1, 1949-February 15, 1950 

Checklist 

National Arts Gallery, New York, 
Federation of Modern Painters and 
Sculptors, 1949 

New School for Social Research, 
New York, 14th Exhibition, 
American Abstract Artists, March 
15-31,1950 

Announcement 

Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris, 
American Abstract Artists, June 
i-July 15, 1950 

The Pinacotheca— Rose Fried 
Gallery, New York, American 
Abstract Artists, 15th Annual 
Exhibition, October 10-28, 1950 

Announcement 



Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, 1950 Annual Exhibition 
of Contemporary American Painting, 
November 10-December 31, 1950 

Catalogue with foreword by 
Hermon More 

New School for Social Research, 
New York, The Federation of 
Modern Painters and Sculptors, 
November 14-December 4, 1950 

Checklist 

Riverside Museum, New York, 
American Abstract Artists Annual, 
March 4-25, 1951 

Museum of Non-Objective Painting, 
New York, Loan Exhibition, April 
3-June 3,1951 

Announcement and checklist 

New Gallery, New York, American 
Abstract Artists Sixteenth Annual 
Exhibition, February 24-March 
i3> I 95 i 
Announcement 

Museum of Non-Objective Painting, 
New York, The Evolution to Non- 
Objectivity, April 29-August 31, 1952 

Announcement and checklist 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
52/53 Prospectus, September 8-27, 
1952 

Announcement 



Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, 1952 Annual Exhibition 
of Contemporary American Painting, 
November 6, 1952-January 4, 1953 

Catalogue with foreword by 
Hermon More 

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, The 
Classic Tradition in Contemporary 
Art, April 24-June 28, 1953 

Catalogue with introduction by 
H. H. Arnason 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, 1953 Annual Exhibition 
of Contemporary American Painting, 
October 15-December 6, 1953 

Catalogue with foreword by 
Hermon More 

Munson- Williams-Proctor Institute, 
Utica, New York, Formal 
Organization in Modern Painting, 
November 1-29, 1953 

Catalogue with introduction by 
Harris K. Prior 

Riverside Museum, New York, 13th 
Annual Exhibition, Federation of 
Modern Painters and Sculptors, 
January 10-31, 1954 

Announcement 

The Stable Gallery, New York 
Second Annual Salon, January 
24-February 20, 1954 



124 



University Galleries, University of 
Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska Art 
Association Sixty-fourth Annual 
Exhibition, February 28-March 
28, 1954 

Catalogue 

Riverside Museum, New York, 
American Abstract Artists, March 
7-28, 1954 

Carnegie Institute, Department of 
Fine Arts, Pittsburgh, Contemporary 
American Painting, April 1954 

Associated American Artists Gallery, 
New York, 14th Annual Exhibition, 
Federation of Modern Painters and 
Sculptors 195 5-1956: Paintings, 
February 14-26, 1955 

Announcement and catalogue with 
introduction by Harold Weston, 
foreword by Duncan Phillips 

University Galleries, University of 
Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska Art 
Association Sixty-fifth Annual 
Exhibition, February 27-March 27, 
1955; shown at Joslyn Art Museum, 
Omaha, April 10-May 10, 1955 

Catalogue with introductions by 
Norman A. Geske and Eugene 
Kingman 

New School for Social Research, New 
York, Nineteenth Annual Exhibition, 
American Abstract Artists, February 
28-March 21, 1955 

Announcement 



The Stable Gallery, New York, Stable 
Show, Fourth Annual Exhibition of 
Painting and Sculpture, April 26-May 
2-i,i955 
Announcement 

Riverside Museum, New York, 15th 
Annual Exhibition, Federation of 
Modern Painters and Sculptors, Inc., 
November 13-December 4, 1955 

Announcement 

Riverside Museum, New York, 
American Abstract Artists with 
"Painters 1 1" of Canada, April 
8-May 20, 1956 

Announcement 

Riverside Museum, New York, 16th 
Annual Exhibition, Federation of 
Modern Painters and Sculptors, 
November 4-25, 1956 

Announcement 

Contemporary Arts Museum, 
Houston, The Sphere of Mondrian, 
February 27-March 24, 1957 

Catalogue with foreword by Mrs. 
Robert Straus and Jermayne 
MacAgy, introduction by Rose Fried 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, 1957 Annual Exhibition, 
Sculpture, Paintings, Watercolors, 
November 20, 1957-January 12, 1958 

Catalogue 



United States Committee of the 
International Association of Plastic 
Arts, New York, organizer, 75 Living 
American Artists, traveled to Munich, 
Bonn, Lille, Marseilles, Paris, Tours, 
Toulouse and Rouen until November 
1957 

Riverside Museum, New York, 
American Abstract Artists, zznd 
Annual Exhibition, Including Guest 
Artists, March 2-30, 1958 

Announcement 

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 
Richmond, American Painting 1958, 
March 28-April 27, 1958 

Catalogue with foreword by Leslie 
Cheek, Jr., introduction by Grace 
L. McCann Morley 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, The Museum and Its 
Friends, April 30-June 15, 1958 

Catalogue with foreword by Flora 
Whitney Miller, introduction by 
David M. Solinger 

Riverside Museum, New York, iSth 
Annual Exhibition, Federation of 
Modern Painters and Sculptors, Part 
11, March 29-April 26, 1959 

Announcement 



125 



Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 
23rd Annual American Abstract 
Artists, June 1-13, 1959 
Announcement 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, Annual Exhibition, 
Contemporary American Painting, 
December 9, 1959-January 31, i960 

Catalogue 

University of Nebraska Art Galleries, 
Lincoln, Seventieth Annual Exhibi- 
tion, February 28-March 27, i960 

Catalogue 

Riverside Museum, New York, 2.0th 
Anniversary, Federation of Modern 
Painters and Sculptors, October 
30-November 27, i960 

The Art Institute of Chicago, 64th 
American Exhibition, Paintings, 
Sculpture, January 6-February 
5,1961 

Catalogue with foreword by J [ohn] 
M [axon] 

Lever House, New York, 2 5th 
Annual Exhibition, American 
Abstract Artists, April 3-21, 1961 

Announcement 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
1951-1961 Tenth Anniversary 
Season, 61-62 Prospectus, September 
12-30, 1961 

Announcement 



Riverside Museum, New York, 21st 
Annual Federation of Modern 
Painters and Scidptors, November 
12-December 10, 1961 

Announcement 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, Annual Exhibition 1961, 
Contemporary American Painting, 
December 13, 1961-February 4, 1962 

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine 
Arts, Philadelphia, The One Hundred 
and Fifty-Seventh Annual Exhibition 
of American Painting and Sculpture, 
January 12-February 25, 1962 

Catalogue with foreword by Joseph 
T. Fraser, Jr. 

I.B.M. Gallery, New York, American 
Abstract Artists 26th Annual 
Exhibition, February 5-24, 1962 

Announcement 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
Geometric Abstraction in America, 
Fifth Loan Exhibition, Friends of 
the Whitney Museum of American 
Art, March 20-May 13, 1962 

Catalogue with foreword by Eloise 
Spaeth, introduction by John 
Gordon 



Seattle World's Fair, 1962, American 
Art Since 1950, April 21-October 21, 
1962. Shown at Poses Institute of 
Fine Arts, Brandeis University and 
Institute of Contemporary Art, 
Boston, November 21 -December 
23,1962 

Catalogue with introduction by 
Sam Hunter 

Lever House, New York, 22nd 
Annual Exhibition, Federation of 
Modern Painters and Sculptors, 
January 13-27, 1963 

Catalogue 

The Corcoran Gallery of Art, 
Washington, D.C., Twenty-Eighth 
Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary 
American Painting, January 18- 
March 3, 1963 

Catalogue with introduction by 
Hermann Warner Williams, Jr. 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New 
York, 63-64 Prospectus, September 
10-28, 1963 

Announcement 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, Annual Exhibition, 1963, 
Contemporary American Painting, 
December 11, 1963-February 2, 1964 

Catalogue 



Lever House, New York, 23 r d 
Annual Federation of Modern 
Painters and Sculptors, January 
12-26, 1964 

Announcement 

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine 
Arts, Philadelphia, The One-Hundred 
and Fifty-Ninth Annual Exhibition 
of American Painting and Sculpture, 
January 15-March 1, 1964 

Catalogue with foreword by Joseph 
T. Fraser, Jr. 

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, The 
Classic Spirit in 20th Century Art, 
February 4-29, 1964 

University Galleries, University of 
Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska Art 
Association Sixty-fourth Annual 
Exhibition, February 28-March 
28,1964 

Catalogue 

Riverside Museum, New York, 
Federation of Modern Painters and 
Sculptors, May 3-August 2, 1964 

Announcement 

Galleria del Levante, Milan, Rome, 
// contributo russo alle avanguardie 
plastistiche, September 1964 

Catalogue 



Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New 
York, 64-65 Prospectus, September 
15-26, 1964 

Announcement 

Tenth Street Galleries, New York, 
3rd Annual Art Show, September 
18-October 8, 1964 

Announcement 

Pavillion of Fine Arts, New York 
World's Fair, 1964-65, American Art 
Today 

Catalogue with foreword by Norman 
E. Blankman 

Lever House, New York, 24th 
Annual Exhibition, Federation of 
Modern Painters and Sculptors, 
January 10-24, x 965 
Announcement 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York 
The Precise Construction, March 
2-27, 1965 

Announcement 

Riverside Museum, New York, 29th 
Annual Exhibition of Members and 
Guests, American Abstract Artists, 
March 14-April 25, 1965 

Announcement 



Americana Hotel, New York, 
American Institute of Architects 
Convention, Murals in Architecture, 
June 1965 

Catalogue with introduction by 
Helen Treadwell 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
Prospectus 65-66, October 5-23, 1965 

Announcement 

DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, 
Massachusetts, White on White, 
October 10-November 21, 1965. 
Shown at Addison Gallery, Phillips 
Andover Academy, Andover, 
Massachusetts 

Catalogue with foreword by 
Frederick P. Walkey 

Exhibition Hall, U.S. Plywood 
Corporation Building, New York, 
Architecture and the Arts Aivards 
1965, October 18-November 5, 1965 

Catalogue 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, 1965 Annual Exhibition 
of Contemporary American Painting, 
December 8, 1965-January 30, 1966 

Catalogue 

Union Carbide Corporation, New 
York, 25th Annual Exhibition, 
Federation of Modern Painters and 
Sculptors, January n-February 1, 
1966 

Announcement 



The Pennsylvania Academy of the 
Fine Arts, Philadelphia, One Hundred 
and Sixty-first Annua! Exhibition 
of American Painting and Sculpture, 
January 21-March 6, 1966 

Announcement and catalogue with 
foreword by Joseph T. Fraser, Jr. 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New 
York, Prospectus 66-67, September 
13-24, 1966 

Announcement 

Riverside Museum, New York, 
Yesterday and Today, American 
Abstract Artists' 10th Annual 
Exhibition, September 25-November 
27, 1966 

Announcement and checklist 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, Annual Exhibition 1966, 
Sculpture and Prints, December 
16, 1966-February 5, 1967 

Catalogue 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
On Paper, May 31-June 30, 1967 

Announcement 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
Prospectus 67-68, September 12-30, 
1967 

Announcement 



The American Federation of Arts, 
New York, organizer From 
Synchromism Forward: A View of 
Abstract Art in America, traveled 
November 1967-November 1968 

Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, 1967 Annual Exhibition 
of Contemporary Painting, December 
13, 1967-February 4, 1968 

Catalogue 

Riverside Museum, New York, The 
Federation of Modern Painters and 
Sculptors, 27th Annual Exhibition, 
January 14-February 18, 1968 

Checklist 

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 
Plus By Minus: Today's Half 
Century, March 3-April 14, 1968 

Catalogue with note by D [ouglas] 
M [acAgy], foreword by Gordon M. 
Smith 

Union Carbide Building, New York, 
Federation of Modern Painters and 
Sculptors, Members Exhibition of 
Painting and Sculpture, September 
16-October 11, 1968 

Announcement 

Riverside Museum, New York, 
American Abstract Artists 32nd 
Anniversary Exhibition, October 6- 
December 1, 1968 

Announcement 



Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, The 1930's: Painting & 
Sculpture in America, October 15- 
December 1, 1968 

Catalogue with text by William C. 
Agee 

The Museum of Fine Arts, St. 
Petersburg, Florida, Color in Control, 
September 21-October 16, 1969, 
traveled to The Loch Haven Art 
Center, Orlando, Florida, November 
2-30, 1969 

Catalogue with introduction by 
Lee Malone 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum, New York, Selections from 
The Guggenheim Museum 
Collection: 1900-1970, May 1- 
September 12, 1970 

Catalogue with preface by Thomas 
M. Messer, introduction by Louise 
Averill Svendsen 

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 
Richmond, American Painting 1970, 
May 4-June 7, 1970 

Catalogue with foreword by James 
M. Brown, introduction by Peter H. 
Selz 

Loeb Student Center, New York 
University, Federation of Modern 
Painters and Sculptors, December 14, 
1970-January 14, 1971 

Announcement 



128 



Art Gallery and Museum, The 
American Academy of Arts and 
Letters and The National Institute of 
Arts and Letters, New York, 
Exhibition of Work by Newly Elected 
Members and Recipients of Honors 
and Awards, May 17- June 10, 1971 

Checklist 

Galerie Jean Chauvelin, Paris, The 
Non-Objective World; La Peinture 
non-objective; II Mondo della Non- 
Oggettivita, 1924-1939, June 1-30, 
1971; Annely Juda Fine Art, London, 
July 7-September 30, 1971; Galleria 
Milano, Milan, October 15- 
November 15, 1971 

Catalogue in English, French, Italian 
with introduction by Eckhard 
Neumann 

The Hudson River Museum, 
Yonkers, New York, 10th Century 
Fainting and Sculpture from the New 
York University Art Collection, 
October 2-November 14, 1971 

Catalogue with acknowledgements 
by Ruth Bowman, foreword by 
Howard Conant, introduction by 
Irving H. Sandler 

The Aldrich Museum of 
Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, 
Connecticut, Sculpture and Shapes of 
the Last Decade, October 3- 
December 19, 1971 



Whitney Museum of American Art, 
New York, 1972 Annual Exhibition, 
Contemporary American Painting, 
January 25-March 19, 1972 

Catalogue with foreword by John 
I. H. Baur 

Zabriskie Gallery, New York, 
American Geometric Abstraction— 
i<)}o's, June i-July 14, 1972 
Announcement 

Annely Juda Fine Art, London, The 
Non-Objective World; Die 
Gegenstandslose Welt; II Mondo 
della Non-Oggettivita, 1939-1955, 
July 6-September 8, 1972; Galerie 
Liatowitsch, Basel, September 20- 
October 26, 1972; Galleria Milano, 
Milan, November 14-December 30, 
1972 

Announcement and catalogue in 
English, German, Italian with 
introduction by George Rickey 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
Prospectus 72-73, September 9-21, 
1972 

Announcement 

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, 
Geometric Abstraction: 1926-1942, 
October 7-November 19, 1972 

Catalogue with foreword by Merrill 
C. Rueppel, introduction by Robert 
M. Murdock, texts by Michel 
Seuphor and John Elderfield 



Contemporary Arts Gallery, Loeb 
Student Center, New York 
University, 36th Anniversary Exhibit, 
American Abstract Artists, October 
31-November 22, 1972 

Announcement 

Museum of Contemporary Art, 
Chicago, Post-Mondrian Abstraction 
in America, March 31-May 13, 1973 

Announcement and catalogue with 
foreword by Stephen S. Prokopoff, 
introduction by Robert Pincus-Witten 



129 



One-man Exhibitions 
and Selected Reviews 



G.R.D. Studios, New York, 1930 

New Art Circle, J. B. Neumann, New 
York, February 11-28, 1946 
Announcement 

W [olf], B [en], "Ilya Bolotowsky, 
Non-Objective," Art Digest, vol. 20, 
no. 10, February 15, 1946, p. 14. 

The Pinacotheca, New York, 
November 10-29, x 947 
Announcement 

L., A., Art Digest, vol. 22, no. 5, 
December 1, 1947, p. 22. 

Art News, vol. 46, no. 9, December 
1947, p. 46. 

The Rose Fried Gallery (The 
Pinacotheca), New York, April 4-21, 
1950 
Announcement 

H [ess], T [homas] B., Art Neivs, vol. 
49, no. 3, May 1950, pp. 51-52. 

Krasne, Belle, "Bolotowsky, 
Mondrian in Russian Translation," 
Art Digest, vol. 24, no. 14, April 15, 
1950, p. 16. 

New Art Circle, J. B. Neumann, New 
York, March 3-29, 1952 
Announcement with note by George 
L. K. Morris 

A [shton], D [ore], Art Digest, vol. 26, 
no. 12, March 15, 1952, p. 19. 

G [oodnough], R [obert], Art News, 
vol. 51, no. 1, March 1952, p. 46. 



Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
January 4-23, 1954 
Announcement 

L [ansner], K [ermit] I., Art News, 
vol. 52, no. 9, January 1954, p. 79. 

S [awin], M [artica], Art Digest, vol. 
28, no. 7, January 1, 1954, p. 19. 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
January 3-21, 1956 
Announcement 

G., B., Arts, vol. 30, no. 4, January 
1956, p. 50. 

T [yler], P [arker], Art Neivs, vol. 54, 
no. 9, January 1956, p. 51. 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
January 6-25, 1958 
Announcement 

B [urrey], S [uzanne], Arts, vol. 32, 
no. 4, January 1958, p. 56. 

S [chuyler], J fames], Art News, vol. 
56, no. 9, January 1958, p. 21. 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
Recent Paintings, October 6-24, 1959 
Announcement 

D., G., Arts Magazine, vol. 34, no. 2, 
November 1959, p. 68. 

State University College of 
Education, New Paltz, New York, 
January 10-28, i960 
Announcement 



130 



Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
October 3-21, 1961 
Announcement 

S [chuyler], J [ames], Art News, vol. 
60, no. 7, November 1961, p. 16. 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
October 1-16, 1963 
Announcement 

B [eck], J [ames] H., Art Neivs, vol. 
62, no. 7, November 1963, p. 15. 

J [udd], D [onald], Arts Magazine, 
vol. 38, no. 2, November 1963, p. 35. 

Art Depot Gallery, La Grangeville, 
New York, August 6-16, 1964 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
January 4-22, 1966 
Announcement 

Benedikt, Michael, "New York 
Letter: Op; Neo-Neo-Plasticism," 
Art International, vol. 10, no. 3, 
March 20, 1966, p. 56. 

S [wain], R [ichard], Arts Magazine, 
vol. 40, no. 5, March 1966, pp. 61-62. 

East Hampton Gallery, East 
Hampton, New York, July 1966 

Gorham State College Art Gallery, 
Gorham, Maine, April 15-May 15, 
1967 
Announcement 



Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
March 16-April 5, 1968 
Announcement 

E [dgar],N [atalie], Art News, vol. 
67, no. 3, May 1968, p. 11. 

K [eller], H [arold], Arts Magazine, 
vol. 42, no. 6, April 1968, p. 63. 

George Gershwin College, Stony 
Brook, New York, Bolotowsky 
Weekend, November 15-17, 1968 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
January 31-February 26, 1970 
Announcement 

Campbell, Lawrence, "Squaring the 
Circle and Vice- Versa," Art News, 
February 1970, cited above in On 
the artist 

University Art Museum, The 
University of New Mexico, organizer, 
llya Bolotowsky Paintings and 
Columns, shown at Newport Harbor 
Art Museum, Balboa, California, 
January 27-March 1, 1970; 
University of Colorado, Boulder, 
March 22-April 26; University Art 
Museum, The University of New 
Mexico, Albuquerque, Summer; The 
University of Iowa Museum of Art, 
Iowa City, August 4-September 1 5 
Catalogue with text by Robert M. 
Ellis 

Stiles, Knute, "A Twelve Year 
Retrospective Travels the West," 
Artforum, vol. 8, no. 8, April 1970, 
pp. 52-55. 



Art Harris Gallery, Los Angeles, 
June 1970 

London Arts Gallery, London, 
Paintings and Screenprints, April 1- 
May 1, 1 971 
Announcement 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
Recent Paintings and Columns, 
February 26-March 23, 1972 
Announcement with note by the artist 

Ratcliff, Carter, Art International, 
vol. 16, no. 4, April 20, 1972, p. 31. 

Shirey, David L., The New York 
Times, March 4, 1972, p. 23. 

David Barnett Gallery, Milwaukee, 
Recent Paintings and Columns, 
October 15-31, 1972 
Announcement with notes by the 
artist and David Barnett 

Wichita Art Museum, Kansas, Recent 
Serigraphs, January 19-February 20, 

1973 

Checklist with introduction; 

statement by the artist 

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 
Paintings and Columns, March 30- 
April 25, 1974 

Catalogue with note by J. D. Cohn; 
statement by the artist 

Hess, Thomas B., New York, vol. 7, 
no. 16, April 22, 1974, pp. 72-73. 



Selected Bibliography 



I 3 i 



Exhibition catalogues and selected 
reviews are included in the 
exhibitions list. 

By the artist 

Articles, statements 

[Statement], Realties nonvelles, no. 4, 
1950, p. 43. 

[Statement], Realties nonvelles, no. 6, 
July 1951, p. 8. 

Lassaw, Ibram and Bolotowsky, Ilya, 
"Russian Constructivism: An 
Interview with Naum Gabo," The 
World of Abstract Art, The American 
Abstract Artists, ed., New York, c. 
1957. PP- 87-101. 

Russian English Dictionary of 
Painting and Sculpture, New York, 
1962. 

"On Neoplasticism and My Own 
Work: A Memoir," Leonardo, vol. 
2, 1969, PP- 2.21-230. 

"Concerning My Tondo Paintings," 
Art Now: New York, vol. 2, no. 2, 
1970, unp. 

"Moholy Nagy. Ed. Richard 
Kostelanetz," Leonardo, vol. 6, no. 1, 
Winter 1973. Book review. 

Films 

Various dates: Bolotowsky Shows 
I 953"57 : early shorts; western shorts 
1953: David Smith 



1954: Haunted House 

1955: Broadway (color); Constant; 
Dead End (color); Gabo; Highways; 
George L. K. Morris; The Museum of 
Modern Art; The National Gallery; 
The Philadelphia Museum; Xceron 

1956: Ruth Asawa; Avery; Nell 
Blaine; Rhys Caparn; De Rivera; 
Duchamp; Fire Escapes; Wolf Kahn 
Paints a Picture; Nevelson; David 
Smith; Knute Stiles 

1956-57: Sand Creek 

1958: De Rivera; Subways; Andrew 
Winter 

1959-60: Narcissus in a Gothic Mood 

1961: Positive Negative (Metanoia) 

1961-62: Metanoia 

1961: The Last Orpheus 

1967: Waking Dream 

1968: Afternoon of a Fawn; The Eye 

1969: The Ambassadors (color); 
Torreon 

jyji-.The Parnassian 

Plays 

1962: Shadowcave; Visitation 
1964: Prologue; Sixty Fifth Parallel 
1965: Lofts; A Neurotic Lion 
1965-the present: The Geese of Rome 
1967: Banana Oil (a happening) 



1968: Darling, Poor Darling; Sixty 
Miles per Hour (with Andrew 
Bolotowsky) 

1974: Darling, Poor Darling (an 
opera) 

Stories 

1962: A Picnic (in Russian and 
English); A Patient (in Russian and 
English) 

1964: Thieves I 

1967: Maecenas 

1969: Pride; Thieves H 

1969-70: Thieves HI 

1970: The Mattress 

1970-the present: Going Home 

1971 : A Pioneer; Elger ]. Toomer 

On the artist 

Morris, George L. K., "La Peinture 
abstraite aux U. S. A.," Art 
d'anjourd'hui, vol. 2, no. 6, June 
1951, p. 20. Special issue "La Peinture 
aux Etats-Unis" 

Philadelphia Museum of Art, A. E. 
Gallatin Collection, 1954, p. 28. 

The American Abstract Artists, ed., 
The World of Abstract Art, New 
York, c. 1957, pp. vii; in, 133, 140, 
145,161. 



Seuphor, Michel, Dictionnaire de la 
peinture abstraite, Paris, 1957, p. 136; 
English translation, Dictionary of 
Abstract Painting, New York, n.d., 
p. 136. 

Tillim, Sidney, "What Happened to 
Geometry," Arts Magazine, vol. 33, 
no. 9, June 1959^.40. 

Goodrich, Lloyd and Baur, John 
I. H., American Art of our Century, 
New York, 1961, p. 241. 

Taylor, Brie, "Towards a Plastic 
Revolution," Art News, vol. 63, no. 
1, March 1964, pp. 48-49. 

Welsh, Robert, "The Growing 
Influence of Mondrian," Canadian 
Art, vol. 23, no. 1, January 1966, 
P-45- 

Sjoberg, Leif, "Ilya Bolotowsky," 
Konstrevy, vol. 40, no. 2-3, 1964, 
pp. 82-85. 

Cummings, Paul, Dictionary of 
Contemporary American Artists, 
New York, 1966, pp. 61-63. 

Rickey, George, Constructivism: 
Origins and Evolution, New York, 
1967, pp. 64, 86, 93-94- 

Rose, Barbara, American Art since 
1900: A Critical History, New York, 
Washington, D.C., 1967, pp. 146, 
157,158,160. 

American Abstract Artists: Three 
Yearbooks (1938, 1939, 1946), New 
York, 1969, pp. 96, 191. 



Campbell, Lawrence, "Squaring the 
Circle and Vice- Versa," Art News, 
vol. 68, no. 1, February 1970, pp. 
38-41,68-72. 

Elderfield, John, "American 
Geometric Abstraction in the Late 
Thirties," Artforum, vol. n, no. 4, 
December 1972, p. 37. 

Ashton, Dore, The New York School: 
A Cultural Reckoning, New York, 

1972, pp. 64, 75, 78, 101,146. 

Hunter, Sam, American Art of the 
20th Century, New York, 1972, p. 
160, pis. 219, 289. 

Moffett, Kenworth, "Noland," Art 
International, vol. 17, no. 6, Summer 

1973, p. 2Z. 

Burnham, J., "Mondrian's American 
Circle," Arts, vol. 48, no. 1, 
September 1973, p. 37. 

G [oosens], E [ugene] C, The 
Britannica Encyclopedia of American 
Art, Chicago, New York, 1973, 
pp. 77-78. 

Phaidon Dictionary of Twentieth- 
Century Art, London and New York, 
1973, P-43- 



133 



Photographic Credits black and whites 



Victor Amato, Washington, D.C.: 
Cat. nos. 8,9 

Courtesy Ilya Bolotowsky: Cat. nos. 
10, 14, zi 

Lee Boltin: Cat. no. 33 

Dean Conger, Caspar, Wyoming: 
Cat. nos. 19, 20 

Courtesy Contemporary Collection 
of the Cleveland Museum of Art: 
Cat. no. 29 

Jay Hoops: Cat. no. 91 

Jan Jachniewicz: Cat. no. 41 

Paul Katz, New York: Frontispiece 

Andrei Lovinescu: Cat. no. 58 

Robert E. Mates: Cat. no. 37 

Robert E. Mates and Susan Lazarus, 
New York: Cat. nos. 2, 3, 5, 6, 11, 12, 
J 3. *5. *7j J8, 24, 27, 31,40, 54, 57, 
62, 66, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 
79,80,81,82,83,84,86,89 

Courtesy The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York: Cat. no. 32 

O. E. Nelson, New York: Cat. nos. 1, 

2 3. 2-5. 34. 36, 38, 44. 4 6 . 5°> 55. 6o . 
67,68,69,70,87,88,93,94 

Courtesy New York University Art 
Collection: Cat. nos. 22, 28 

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Photo- 
graph by A. J. Wyatt, Staff Photog- 
rapher: Cat. no. 7 



Eric Pollitzer: Cat. no. 85 

Walter Rosenblum, Long Island City: 
Cat. nos. 47, 49, 56 

Walter Rosenblum and Andrei 
Lovinescu: Cat. no. 52 

John D. Schiff, New York: Cat. 
no. 61 

Charles Uht, Courtesy Grey Art 
Gallery and Art Study Center, New 
York University: Cat. no. 4 

Courtesy University Art Museum, 
University of New Mexico, 
Albuquerque: Cat. no. 39 

Courtesy University of Iowa Museum 
of Art: Cat. no. 45 

Courtesy University of Nebraska Art 
Gallery, Lincoln: Cat. nos. 16, 43 

Courtesy Walker Art Center, Eric 
Sutherland: Cat. no. 91 

Courtesy Whitney Museum of Amer- 
ican Art, New York, Photograph 
Geoffrey Clements: Cat. nos. 26, 42 



EKTACHROMES 

Courtesy Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 
New York: Cat. nos. 35, 48, 51, 53, 
59. 6 3. 6 5 

Richard Gray, Chicago: Cat. no. 30 

Robert E. Mates and Susan Lazarus, 
New York: Cat. nos. 64, 90 



EXHIBITION 74/5 

3,000 copies of this catalogue designed by Malcolm Grear Designers 

have been typeset by Dumar Typesetting, Inc. 

and printed by Foremost Lithograph Co. 

in September 1974 for the Trustees of 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation on the occasion of 

Ilya Bolotowsky 



1 



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THE SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM 1071 Fifth Avenue New York City 10028